It’s no secret that Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town have wanted to tour together for many years now, and The Bandwagon Tour has been a long time coming. Thankfully, the wait is over – their co-headlining summer tour dates officially kicked off this weekend in North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana. We knew we had to be there for one of the very first shows, so Sounds Like Nashville hit the road and headed north to Noblesville, IN, Saturday night (July 14) with pit passes in hand, ready to rock. These are five important reasons you should #GetOn “The Bandwagon” before this all-star lineup of country’s finest takes their final bow at the end of August.
Natalie Hemby & Tenille Townes: Debating whether to come early or not? Absolutely get there early! Openers Natalie Hemby and Tenille Townes are not-to-be-missed for more reasons than we have room to list. But here’s a few: recently signed to Columbia Nashville, and fresh off her Grand Ole Opry debut, Townes is the first to play and quickly captivates the crowd with her acoustic guitar and knack for storytelling. Living Room Worktapes, an acoustic EP of original songs, dropped earlier this spring. It won’t be long before Townes’ music is reaching audiences of her own far and wide. Hemby’s name is one you should know if you don’t already. And we can’t think of a better addition to The Bandwagon Tour than the seasoned Nashville-based songwriter who has penned hits for both Lambert and Little Big Town, among many others. Hemby’s set featured music off her 2017 debut album, Puxico, as well as well-known cuts off Little Big Town’s 2014 album, Pain Killer, and several songs previously released by Lambert, including “Girls,” “Smoking Jacket,” and “Airstream Song.” But it was her live rendition of “Taxidermy,” the latest from rising talent Kassi Ashton, that really showed off Hemby’s unique, quirky and always satisfying songwriting chops.
Little Big Town & Harmonies For Days: Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Kimberly Schlapman and Phillip Sweet are next up to bat, and there are just not enough good things to say about our friends in Little Big Town. Those harmonies soar for days and their songs just find a way to permanently embed themselves into your head. Fairchild reminded the crowd that she was born in Indiana, and the cheers that followed could have been heard in the next state over. From “Tornado” to “Day Drinking” as the last bit of daylight shined through Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center, it was a party from the very first note. There was a slew of Little Big Kids watching side stage, we couldn’t help but notice the twinkle in those kiddos’ eyes watching their parents lift the roof off the entire place. By the time they performed their current single, “Summer Fever,” there wasn’t a person left in their seat. And if anyone is taking notes on how to choose the perfect cover song, let their version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” set the example. Simply, wow.
Pranks & Shenanigans: Whether it’s the beginning of a tour, the end, someone’s birthday, someone’s hometown, you name it, there’s always a good reason for a shenanigan or two at any given show. Little Big Town’s set in Indiana featured a few for the books. First, when the band stopped the show to bring forward a fan that had made them a batch of legendary homemade brownies. According to Fairchild, they weren’t “those” kind of brownies (if you know what we mean), but, yes; they were amazing. During “Pontoon,” Hemby walked out front and center, complete with a mask, snorkel, fins, a six-pack of cold ones, and a donut-shaped inner tube around her waist. Needless to say, the songwriter behind this smash song had everyone rolling with laughter; especially LBT.
Miranda Lambert, Enough Said: We’ve come to expect nothing less than a mix of sass, fringe, plenty of sparkle, raw emotion and authentic storytelling from Miranda Lambert when she hits the stage. Her shows are always a musical journey through a wide spectrum feels and year after year she brings good ole country music at its best to the stage. (She’s the keeper of the flame, after all!) With crowd favorites including “The House That Built Me,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and “Over You,” Lambert raises the bar high right out of the gate. She also takes us back to her early days with feisty, empowering anthems such as “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder & Lead.” But it’s a handful of songs, including “Vice,” off her critically acclaimed 2016 album, The Weight of These Wings, that leave us feeling like we’re watching an artist completely owning her sound and showcasing the undeniable growth she’s experienced over the years. We can’t wait for her next studio album, as it’s sure to be another honest reflection of the stories and tales she’s so fully lived.
The Encore: For anyone freaking out over not hearing a favorite song or two in each of the co-headliner’s sets; first, take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. Little Big Town makes their epic return to the stage to help Lambert finish a bone-chilling rendition of “Tin Man.” And what comes next is a never-ending encore that seems to last forever, but at the same time, isn’t quite long enough. Talk about a night you don’t want to end! From collaborating on chart-toppers like “Girl Crush,” “White Liar” and “Boondocks,” to performing “Smokin’ and Drinkin’”– a track featuring Little Big Town, included on Lambert’s 2014 album, Platinum. And then there are the covers, and they are showstoppers. “Killing Me Softly” highlights some of the best harmonies of the night, while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and Destiny Child’s “Say My Name” have everyone on their feet. Schlapman, Fairchild and Lambert channel their inner Dixie Chicks on a crowd-wide sing-a-long of “Goodbye Earl,” and Hemby and Townes make their way back to the stage for the final song of the evening, Bill Withers’ iconic “Lean On Me.”