NYCountry Swag’s Favorite Concerts of Summer 2018
Christina Bosch: The Fest Featuring Brown and Gray, Mitchell Tenpenny, Russell Dickerson, and Dustin Lynch
This summer as Managing Editor for New York Country Swag we attended at least one show a week, sometimes two or three. Narrowing my favorite concerts to one was a hard decision but as a big fan of rising artists, I think one of the greatest experiences we had was attending The Fest out on Long Island. The lineup featured Brown and Gray, Mitchell Tenpenny, Russell Dickerson and Dustin Lynch. Over the past year, we have seen each of these artists perform separately whether it was a Live Swag Session like we did here with Brown and Gray or Mitchell Tenpenny or catching Dustin Lynch at Playstation Theatre or Russell Dickerson at his sold-out NJ show.
Seeing them all on one stage was truly incredible, their unique talents and the different vibe each bring to the country music genre made for the perfect night of music. Between Brown and Gray’s summer hit “Top Down” to Dickerson’s venue-wide sing-a-long to his latest single “Blue Tacoma” the audience was loving these rising artists and the smash hits they are releasing.
Stephanie Wagner: Mitchell Tenpenny at Mercury Lounge
As Christina mentioned, we had the incredible opportunity to see so many amazing shows this summer. One of my favorite things to do with this company is to support rising artists which is what makes Mitchell Tenpenny’s Mercury Lounge show my favorite show of the summer.
We first worked with Mitchell back in December when we did a Live Swag Session in the heart of Times Square. This was before he had a song on the radio and before his record deal with Riser House/ Sony Nashville. I had been a fan of his since the first time I heard his music, so I was excited to work with him that day. To see how hard he has worked and watch his debut single hit the Top 20, makes me so proud of the artist and person he is. Tenpenny sold out his Mercury Lounge show two weeks before the date, which is a huge accomplishment for a new artist on a NYC play. There was a special sense of magic in the room that night catching Tenpenny’s performance while the packed house sang back every word to his hour long set. You only get to experience your ‘firsts’ once, so being in the room to experience Tenpenny’s first sold out headlining NYC show is a memory I will treasure.
Crystal Fenton: Trip Around the Sun Tour Kenny Chesney
Seeing Kenny Chesney live has LONG been on my bucket list, so naturally, the Trip Around the Sun tour was my absolute favorite concert of summer 2018. Plus, with Old Dominion & Thomas Rhett as openers, even a multi-hour rain delay at MetLife stadium couldn’t damper (see what I did there?!) the vibe of No Shoes Nation. The show was amazing from start to finish. What a perfect & appropriate way to close out the summer while kicking off September, my birthday month where I’ll take another trip around the sun myself; My first Kenny show definitely won’t be the last! For a full recap and more photos of the Metlife Stadium show, click here.
Molly Holmberg: Jake Owen, Chris Janson, and Jordan Davis
Jake Owen has always been the barefoot blue jean icon in country music and when he takes the stage, he embraces that. During his “Life’s What You Make It” tour this summer he came out barefoot every night and ready for a party. Playing hits like “Good Company”, “Beachin’”, and even a mash-up between Eight Second Ride / Mountain Music / Tennessee River / Dixieland Delight, he puts on a show.
With opening acts Chris Janson and Jordan Davis, the night gets started with a kick. By the time Owen steps foot on stage, the fans have been on their feet the past two hours and are ready for more. The 37-year-old’s big smile with a loose and carefree attitude brings so much life and energy to the stage. He comes to not only entertain but to have a good time with the fans. He is engaging, charismatic, and an overall nice guy. His concert puts you in a feel-good mood by the end of the night. So if you are looking for a great concert, Jake Owen’s is definitely worth every penny.
Owen is putting out music that is real country. And real country is the reason Jake Owen’s future keeps looking promising. Check out his latest party song single “Down To The Honkytonk” here.
Nicole Piering: The Bandwagon Tour Featuring Tenille Townes, Little Big Town, and Miranda Lambert
When it comes to summer in New York, Jones Beach is undoubtedly the best place to see a concert. While I attended quite a few this year, my favorite show of the summer was definitely Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert’s “The Bandwagon Tour.” For one, it was great to see these two superstar acts play at Jones Beach, but even better, the set they did together was electric. While both Lambert and LBT played their own shows, they also combined forces into an epic super-group for a 40-minute set that included some of their biggest hits and some incredible covers. “Boondocks” is always one of my favorite songs to hear live, and their joint covers of “Goodbye Earl,” “Say My Name,” and “Let’s Go Crazy” were all phenomenal. I’d love to see other acts join forces and make shows like this more popular in the future. The full recap of The Bandwagon’s Jones Beach tour stop here.
Nicole Sellati: CMA Fest
This year I was lucky enough to attend the music event of the summer, CMA Fest! This was easily my favorite week of the year! The week was jam-packed with amazing artists, going from concert to concert with no stopping. Some highlights for me were going inside to the fan fair as well as attend the fan parties of Michael Ray and Luke Bryan. These were the events I was looking forward to the most while in Nashville, getting to see the artists up close and personal in an intimate setting. Luke Bryan’s fan club party was in celebration of 10 years of the Nut House where he got to play an acoustic set, performing songs he hasn’t in years. CMA Fest as a whole was amazing but if I had to choose my favorite night at Nissan Stadium I would say Sunday was hands down the best. The last night had all my favorite artists starting with Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, and closing the night was Luke Bryan. It was a night I never wanted to end and thanks to Luke Bryan he made it last a little longer. He was just getting warmed up and ended up playing for over an hour closing out the best concert of my summer. CMA Fest was as perfect as I imagined and I can’t wait to be back next year!
Shanna Vitaliano: Ashley McBryde at Taste of Country Music Festival
My favorite concert of the summer was seeing Ashley McBryde at Taste of Country Music Festival in Hunter Mountain, NY on June 9th. Ashley has an infectious personality onstage. She is down to earth, extremely humble, and her stage presence along with her sense of humor had every festival goer’s attention. Her incredible songwriting ability shined through during “The Jacket” and powerful voice captivated all during “American Scandal.” It was my first time seeing her live after being a fan of her album Girl Goin’ Nowhere and I look forward to seeing her again. Her next show in the NYC area will be December 5th at Gramercy Theatre, grab your tickets here.
Danielle Tornatore: Sam Hunt and Kane Brown in Atlantic City
I attended almost twenty concerts this summer but my favorite had to be Sam Hunt and Kane Brown at Atlantic City BeachFest on July 1st. There are so many reasons why this was my favorite show, one being, I got to road trip there and back with two of my best friends. It’s about two and a half hours each way from us so we were able to make some great memories together. Between jamming out to some great music, sharing stories and just making each other laugh, it was overall a great trip. The day this show got announced, we knew we had to go. We’ve seen Sam Hunt together multiple times, but we had yet to see Kane Brown and he is one of our favorites. We missed Kane when he played at Irving Plaza in New York City in 2016 so we knew this was our perfect opportunity. It was literally 100 degrees out that day and the show was on the actual beach, toes in the sand and all, and despite the heatwave, both guys put on an incredible show which made me admire them even more. Myself, along with the rest of the crowd, were sweating. So much. But the two of them somehow made everyone forget about the weather and just get lost in the music. In the middle of Kane’s set, most of the sound equipment went out from the intense heat but he kept the show going and that is one of the many reasons why I am a huge fan of his. Sam was jumping all around the stage, as usual, during his entire set and maintained his high energy the whole time. It honestly was a day I will never forget and another memory I’ve gained with my best friends.
Erica Zisman: CMAFest (Lee Brice at HGTV Lodge)
Public service announcement: Go to Country Music Association Fest (CMA Fest) in Nashville, Tennessee at least once. Although there are a ton of wonderful concerts held in New York, especially those good ole’ country shows at Jones Beach Amphitheater on Long Island, CMA Fest is a once (or more if you’re lucky) in a lifetime experience for any country music lover. The four-day festival combines some of the biggest names in country music, such as Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett, with new artists and up and coming artists, like Dylan Scott and Morgan Wallen, into a musical extravaganza. The event is packed with free shows all day long, free shows at night, and the ticketed Nissan Stadium line up.
I was able to experience CMA Fest for the second time this summer. One of my favorite free venues is the HGTV Lodge, which is an intimate venue that gets you up close and personal with an artist, while the singer performs acoustically. I was able to see Lee Brice perform, for the first time in June. Hearing some of his hits: “Drinking Class”, “Love Like Crazy”, and his most recent single, “Rumor”, live and stripped down, was one of my favorite concert moments of the summer. Brice was extremely charming, poised, and humble; despite, his major success and even opened the doors to extra fans, who were unable to get into the lodge, due to it being over capacity. Being able to relate to Brice’s songs, but also, Brice as a human being was a really special moment for me and my friends. It was a “concert” I will never forget.
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