Thousands of country fans came together Wednesday night (Aug. 10) for local radio station the Big 98’s annual Guitar-B-Que to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater. The show at the outdoor venue began shortly after 5 p.m. where the temperature was still well into the 90s, but that didn’t deter fans for coming early to see Brandy Clark and stay until 11 p.m. for headliner Kip Moore.
Moore’s 65-minute set showcased just why he is one of country music’s most impressive headline acts. Throughout his performance he held the crowd in the palm of his hand as he played tracks off his 2012 debut album Up All Night and 2015 release Wild Ones. Well aware that it was a Wednesday evening and people had to work the next day, Moore urged the audience to “forget about that shit,” let loose and party with him and they more than obliged.
“Tonight we’re giving you all we got,” he said, and he urged the crowd to do the same.
His energy never wavered throughout his set and fans were dancing along on the grass and in the seats to gritty set opener “Wild Ones” before he segued into “Lipstick,” where he sang about “Nashville country nights” as the Music City skyline was lit up behind him. While previous singles “Beer Money,” “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck,” “Hey Pretty Girl” and “I’m To Blame” had the crowd singing loudly, so did album cuts like “Heart’s Desire” and set closer “That Was Us.”
Prefacing fan favorite “That Was Us,” Moore thanked the audience for coming out and confessed that the song almost didn’t make the cut for his last album.
“This last song, they told us that they loved the song but it wasn’t a good idea to put this on the record because I couldn’t sing about these kinds of things,” he explained. “I come from a small town in south Georgia and I figure the way I grew up is a lot of the way you guys grew up here in Tennessee. So I said, ‘The hell with that. I’m going to make a record that I want to make!’ So, I put this song on there. This is for you guys right here.”
Moore frequently showcased his swagger on the funky “Cigarette” as well as an impressive cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” Often, the animated singer neared the edge of the stage or stood on a speaker and held out his microphone to the crowd. One highlight included his performance of current Top 15 single “Running For You” where Moore stopped singing on the last chorus only to have thousands of fans sing it back to him word for word.
Where Moore closed out the hot summer night, Dustin Lynch showcased his ability as a future headliner with his memorable 30-minute performance. His high-intensity show quite literally and figuratively had the audience “Seein’ Red” as his new single can attest. Mid-set, Lynch and his band were engulfed in a red spotlight. As the opening guitar riff to “Seein’ Red” began, the audience erupted into screams. Instantly, everyone was on their feet and dancing along with the catchy song.
Having been on the road with Luke Bryan for two consecutive tours, the experience was showcased in Lynch’s performance and dance moves. Donning a cowboy hat, Guns N’ Roses t-shirt, jeans and boots, Lynch worked the stage and the crowd with high energy tracks “To the Sky,” “Halo” and “Mind Reader” off his latest album, Where It’s At.
The “Seein’ Red” singer segued effortlessly from the upbeat numbers to the ballads. His debut single “Cowboys and Angels” continues to survive the test of time while previous single “Where It’s At” began with a laidback reggae beat that only added to the song’s already fun factor.
In addition to Moore and Lynch, last night’s lineup included Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots with Lindsay Ell and Natalie Stovall for another energetic set that included a memorable cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain,” a hilarious parody of the Presidents of the United States of America’s 1996 hit “Peaches” and the band’s own “Every Day Is A Good Day.”
Earlier, Jon Pardi showcased his traditional brand of country that had couples two-stepping along in the aisles to “Head Over Boots,” “Dirt On My Boots” and “Night Shift” while Chris Lane brought things to the other side of the spectrum with his pop and urban influenced set. Highlights included his No. 1 single “Fix” as well as a ’90s mashup with covers of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” and *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” complete with the iconic dance moves from the latter boy band’s music video. The only female on the roster, Brandy Clark kicked off the show with a set that highlighted her expertise as a songwriter. Songs like current single “Girl Next Door,” the unique “Stripes” and “Big Day In a Small Town” which fittingly segued into John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” left a lasting mark.
Overall a diverse night of music, Big 98’s Guitar-B-Que benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital proved that a fun night out can also raise money for a very good cause.