The beach party continued on Sunday (Jan. 24), in Riviera Maya, Mexico, for Luke Bryan’s Crash My Playa 2016 with pop-up pool concerts by both Craig Campbell and Sam Hunt before Dierks Bentley and Brett Eldredge took the beachfront stage.
Sounds Like Nashville caught up with Campbell before his set at Hard Rock’s Hacienda Pool where he spoke about bringing his five and seven-year-old daughters on stage to perform with him.
“They know I’m playing today so they already said, ‘Daddy, can we sing again?'” he told Sounds Like Nashville. “I’m super proud of them. When they’re with me and walk out on stage it gives my fans a little treat. I love having them singing.”
Campbell says the decision to come to Mexico for Bryan’s Crash My Playa was easy.
“They invited me and I said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll do it,'” he said sitting outside the Surf Ride in a bathing suit after surfing on the resort’s Wave Machine. “I’ve been friends with Luke for a long time. The opportunity came up and there was absolutely no thinking about it.”
As for his daily pool sets and his performance on the beach stage on Friday (Jan. 22), Campbell says he tailors his set to the beach crowd of people partying and drinking. “The set list changes, the attitude changes. You just gotta read your crowd,” he added. “No matter where I am, I love people singing along. That’s all that matters.”
As Campbell headed over to the Hard Rock, Sam Hunt was about to play the Barceló pool where fans had been waiting poolside for hours for an up-close view of his show. His 30-minute set included a wide range of covers, as well as his own hits that had the packed pool screaming along. He walked up the pool’s bridge shortly after 2:30 and kicked off his performance with Brooks & Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” before singing his own “Raised On It,” which he said is a song about growing up in Georgia. He then segued into a spirited medley of covers including Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love with the Boy,” Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
While the covers transported the pool audience back in time, the crowd was there to see Hunt perform his songs and hung on every word as he sang “Take Your Time,” “Break Up In a Small Town,” “Leave the Night On” and “House Party.” As he closed his set at the pool, he promised to hang out with fans for a while and confessed that he hopes Luke Bryan asks him back next year. “This is my first trip. We’ve had a ball,” he said.
Eldredge no doubt shared Hunt’s sentiments as he told the crowd during his hour performance on the beach stage later that night that Mexico is “definitely the most beautiful setting I’ve played in.” It was easy to tell he was having the time of his life bouncing back and forth from each side of the stage while grinning from ear to ear. Throughout his set, Eldredge showcased his versatility blending genres of country, soul, rock, hip-hop and R&B. While his covers of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” impressed, it was his own songs that left the biggest mark.
“I remember playing shows and there were only two people in the crowd and now more people are coming somehow,” he confessed halfway through his set. “I appreciate y’all supporting me and all the other artists here. It’s the best feeling in the world for you all to sing back the songs like that. I just want to be that song that makes you fall in love, makes you dance or makes you want to get away from the world. I want to be that song for you.”
Fittingly, he segued into the heartfelt “Wanna Be That Song” which describes exactly this. A moving ballad, Eldredge’s vocals soared. Meanwhile, his heartfelt previous single “Mean To Me” continued to showcase his sensitive side.
As powerful as Eldredge’s voice was on the tender tracks, it was a beach party so he kept the energy at maximum. Songs like lively opener “Fire,” hit single “Beat of the Music,” R&B infused “You Can’t Stop Me” and the gritty “Tell Me Where to Park” had the crowd dancing and raising their drinks in the air.
He ended his set on a high note by playing his first No. 1 song “Don’t Ya” and “Shadow” off his latest album Illinois. “This song’s about your alter ego when you get to drinking. Everybody’s got one,” he said. The most rock heavy song he played all night, Eldredge continued to surprise while maintaining the fun vibe he’s known for. And yes, there was some Snapchat involved.
Bentley headlined the evening and for 90 minutes, produced a set of peaks and valleys that relied as heavily on the upbeat songs as the poignant ballads. Appropriately entering the stage to “Sideways,” which both performers and concertgoers equally felt throughout the evening as the liquor continued to flow, it was clear that Bentley was just as excited to perform at Crash My Playa as country fans were to see him.
“I had snow in my boots and now I have sand in my boots,” he said two songs into his set. “I’ve only been here eight hours. Let’s shotgun a beer! I’m gonna catch up real quick.”
And with that he pulled up a guy from the crowd for a chugging race. Shortly after he segued into the fast paced “5-1-5-0,” and later commented that back home, people have to go to work tomorrow but not here in Mexico. He explained that this was his first concert of the year and apologized in advance if he missed a few lyrics before showing off his “old boots” and “old guitar” full of autographs from Merle Haggard, George Strait, George Jones and Garth Brooks.
“I’m so happy to be here. This song means a lot to me,” he said before he and his band played the nostalgic “I Hold On.”
Highlights included a killer performance of “Up On the Ridge” that turned the beachfront concert into a barnyard picking party with fiddle and banjo accompaniment as his entire band neared the edge of the stage as well as a performance of new single “Somewhere On A Beach” which Bentley’s crew filmed the official music video for as he performed the song. Cole Swindell also joined Bentley for an animated performance of “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” where the two pranced around the stage arm in arm, forgot some of the lyrics and raved about being big fans of each other. During a week of surprise performances, the artists enjoyed the collaboration as much as the fans.
“I got so many songs in my head,” Bentley admitted after performing the tender “Say You Do.” “I’m working on the new record. You’re the first crowd we played for in 2016. We’ve had this on the calendar forever.”
As he closed his set with fan favorite “Drunk On A Plane,” he said, “See you guys tomorrow night.” Monday evening (Jan. 25), will be the final beachfront concert of Crash My Playa 2016 and one can only imagine the number of surprises that will occur the last night in Mexico.
Crash My Playa runs through Jan. 26. We’ll be providing daily recaps and interviews with the artists from Mexico so stay tuned!