July 15, 2014 Brantley Gilbert leads The Fest of Country Rock Pennysaver Amphitheater Farmingville, NY 7-3-14 w/ Thomas Rhett, Tyler Farr, Cole Swindell, & American Young
Radio station My Country 96.1 FM hosted their third sold out The Fest this year at Pennysaver Amphitheater in Farmingville on Thursday July 3rd. This festival has been extremely successful and well-loved by country fans since Dierks Bentley sold out the first country show at the Amphitheater at Freedom Fest two summers ago. Continuing the popularity in 2013, Hunter Hayes sold Freedom Fest as well. Now in 2014, what has become an annual traditional of summer, The Fest was headlined by Brantley Gilbert with support from Thomas Rhett, Tyler Farr, Cole Swindell, and American Young. With doors opening at 2 PM, the day could not have been more beautiful. This sunny and warm day had tailgaters out in full swing from early in the morning up until and even passed doors in the parking lot. Fans filed into the amphitheater steadily for quite some time before taking their seats or finding their place on the lawn to enjoy a fantastic performance!
American Young kicked off the show with a fun and interesting live set which included crowd involvement and enthusiasm. It was a bit more of a traditional country feel as opposed to the country rock that the other groups, especially Brantley Gilbert, embody; the crowd enjoyed it nonetheless. The violin absolutely reinforced the more country feel and fit perfectly within their set. Their debut self-titled album was released June 24th via Curb Records.
Speaking of new releases, Cole Swindell’s self-titled album released earlier this year is becoming extremely well-received by mainstream country fan; which is no surprise for those who know Swindell’s previously work. Before going out on his own to record music, he wrote many of country music’s favorite songs for some of the biggest names in the genre including numerous hits for Luke Bryan and the ever popular “This is How We Roll” for Florida Georgia Line which features Luke Bryan. There are numerous songs on the album that are well-recognized and helped to really put Cole Swindell in the spotlight. Naturally many of these songs were played live including the ever popular “Chillin’ It”, which according to Swindell was for the guys in the audience after a run of love songs that female fans absolutely loved. Among songs performed was the adored “Hope You get Lonely Tonight” which had so many fans swooning.
Tyler Farr took the stage next with his catchy, highly-regarded tunes including the popular song, “Redneck Crazy”. Farr had a blast on stage, especially with the beach balls that were flying around throughout the set. One fan seemed to have impeccable aim and threw the ball to Farr multiple times just as he was turning and hit him in the head time after time. Towards the end of the set, Farr finally asked what was up with that which had the entire crowd laughing and giggling because the timing of the beach ball could not have been more perfect if someone was intentionally trying to catch Farr off guard. The touching love song “Whiskey in My Water” was of course a fan favorite and had the sold out crowd singing along happily until the end.
Thomas Rhett followed and automatically caught the attention of every woman at the show with his goofy stage presence and charismatic performance. According to Rhett, being a 90’s boy, at the young age of 24, he was inspired to sporadically burst into covers including the throwback “Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparks. Throughout his spontaneous short lived cover, Rhett even turned to face the stage and proceeded to dance around to his own singing which sent the crowd into screams, cheers, and laughter. He also covered the classic country song “Family Tradition” at which time he had the crowd help him out with singing. Adding the element of surprise to the set, Cole Swindell joined Rhett on stage for a wonderful duet together on the song he wrote called “Get Me Some of That”. Rhett has one of the most enjoyable and genuine stage presences of any artist in any genre because regardless of how familiar someone may or may not be with his music, he makes every minute on stage an absolute blast.
At this time everyone was eagerly awaiting the finale with Brantley Gilbert. This would be Gilbert’s first time returning to the Pennysaver Amphitheater after playing a fantastic show last fall at Vet’s Rock. Naturally he played fan favorites “Kick It In the Sticks”, “Country Must Be Country Wide” and the version of “Dirt Road Anthem” which he originally wrote. The audience was on their feet and screaming along from the minute he stepped onto the stage. Gilbert is a fan performer because of his blatant love for what he does and performing live. When he played “My Kind of Crazy”, fans seemed to melt as they swooned over the heartfelt lyrics and even loving voice of Gilbert. “My Baby’s Guns N’ Roses” off the new album, Just As I Am, earned everyone’s affection as Gilbert showed a softer side with these two songs unlike the ass-whooping side that comes out on his others pieces like “Read Me My Rights”, which unfortunately was not played this time. Last year’s show at the amphitheater had fans cheering and hollering as the southern, tough, yet respectful gentleman spoke of defending women. It would seem though that the set was cut short due to the torrential downpours and lightning strikes that ensued, yet fans absolutely left highly satisfied and in a great mood.
Every year The Fest brings in fantastic country stars for the growing fan base in New York, specifically on Long Island, and puts on phenomenal shows. Every year the line-ups get better as the demand for country shows has grown exponentially. This year alone, the Pennysaver Amphitheater will see Brantley Gilbert, The Band Perry, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Kip Moore, Dierks Bentley, and Lee Brice; and those are just the headliners. If The Fest was any indicator of what the summer will be like for country shows on Long Island, then it will be a jam packed fantastic season for country fans!