Stagecoach 2019: Luke Bryan Dances, Bret Michaels Salutes the Troops and More Day 1 Highlights

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach
Luke Bryan performs onstage during Day 1 of the 2019 Stagecoach Country Music Festival on April 26, 2019 in Indio, Calif.

The 13th annual Stagecoach Festival kicked off on Friday (April 26) in Indio, California, to record-setting temperatures. Upwards of 104 degrees during some of the afternoon performances, the heat didn’t stop country singers from leaving it all on the stage and festivalgoers from showing up and singing along.   

Headliner Luke Bryan had the festival’s 80,000 attendees dancing along to his hit-laden set on the Mane Stage while Texas act Cody Johnson provided one of the most attended performances of the day at the Palomino tent. Bret Michaels also packed the tent, where he showcased his solo material as well as Poison favorites while bringing out veterans and first responders to the stage.

Here’s the timestamped highlights of Day One in the desert at Stagecoach 2019.

12:40 p.m. Filmore kicked off the three-day festival with a high energy set on the SiriusXM Spotlight stage. While the rising heat caused some technical difficulties, it didn’t slow down the singer’s set in the slightest. Standouts included infectious new single “Slower” and the feel-good “You Know You Wanna.” Grateful that country fans showed up during the hottest time of day, Filmore profusely thanked those in attendance. “That’s what country music is all about,” he told fans. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

1:20 p.m. Traditional country music is alive and well thanks to newcomer Carlton Anderson. The singer’s standout performance was one of the few traditional sets during the day where his band included a fiddle player and couples were spotted two-stepping in the audience. “If you know how to two-step, this is the time,” he said to preface a performance of “When Baby Gets a Buzz.” While a cover of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings’ “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” inspired a crowd sing-along, festivalgoers were equally excited to hear Anderson perform his debut single “Drop Everything” and the poignant “Keep Abilene Beautiful.”

2:30 p.m. Ashley Monroe was one of two females on the bill during Friday’s lineup and gave one of the most stirring performances of the day with her ethereal vocals and memorable storytelling. Dressed in a red velvet jumpsuit complete with fringe, several fans onstage helped keep the singer cool throughout her set inside the Palomino tent.

“I never had enough money to have fans onstage before. It’s very Beyoncé,” she joked mid-set. Monroe performed several cuts off her 2018 solo project Sparrow including the sultry “Hands On You,” poignant “Rita” and heartfelt “Mother’s Daughter,” which she said was written about her own mother. “I always gave her all this hell and then I’m just like her, like she always told me,” she reflected.

After playing slowed ballad “This Heaven,” she confessed that she penned the song while sitting in a Walgreens drive-through waiting to pick up a prescription, adding that the moment was “not heaven.” Her humor was further showcased on the tongue-in-cheek “Weed Instead of Roses,” which she wrote at the age of 19. Now a mom herself, the singer-songwriter said she’s treating Stagecoach like a vacation. “Work is like a vacay to me now. I can go wild out here in the desert and I like it!”

3:20 p.m. Tyler Rich made his much deserved debut as a performer at Stagecoach on Friday afternoon after six years of attending as a fan. “Seven years ago I used to walk around here with these little cards that had my face on it and said, ‘If you follow me on Instagram I’ll give you a free song,’ and I’d promise I’m playing Stagecoach next year. I used to say that every year. Six years later I’m finally playing it,” the California native marveled.

He then sang his anthemic new single “Leave Her Wild,” which he prefaced as his favorite song he’s ever written. “I wrote this song about loving somebody for who they are and not sacrificing anything about yourself to love somebody or be with somebody. When you love each other, you should love each other for who you are and who you were born to be,” he stressed.

4:09 p.m. Also a California native, Devin Dawson was the first act to perform on the Mane Stage on Friday where he played several tracks off his 2018 debut album Dark Horse, including the yearning “Placebo,” catchy debut single “All On Me,” and the introspective title track.

“We’re braving the heat, you’re braving the heat, but we’re making memories while we do. This has been a lifelong dream of mine so thank you so much for making that come true,” he said before closing his set with “Dark Horse.” “This is a song that means everything to me. All the things I believe in, all the things I struggle with. Thank you guys for listening tonight,” he said.

4:51 p.m. Cole Swindell is spotted taking selfies and signing autographs with fans outside Guy’s Smokehouse ahead of a live cooking demo with Guy Fieri and Bret Michaels.

4:58 p.m. Cody Johnson is well known for having a cult-like following in Texas, and the singer’s star power was further evidenced during his energized and packed afternoon set at the Palomino tent. One of the main attractions at Stagecoach, Johnson had the biggest crowd of the day at the tent where his diehard CoJo fan base hung on every word he sang. When he held his microphone out to the crowd, the audience sang back every word. While heartfelt ballads “With You I Am” and current single “On My Way to You” showed his tender side, “Dear Rodeo” discussed the reason he gave up the rodeo life for a career in music. If Friday afternoon's turnout was any indication, it was no doubt the right decision.

5:15 p.m.  After performing latest single “Every Little Thing” while running around the Mane Stage, Russell Dickerson turned things up a notch.

“Stagecoach is Ragecoach tonight, baby!” he proclaimed before performing a new song called “Never Get Old.” With lyrics like “Some things never get old / Kinda like whiskey, wine and gold,” the sentimental track further exemplified the singer’s soft side. Ahead of singing debut single “Yours,” Dickerson thanked the audience for changing his life with his first No. 1 hit. One of the most engaging performers of the day, Dickerson amplified his set with a medley of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” alongside set closer “MGNO.”

6:14 p.m. As the sun slowly set during Scotty McCreery’s performance, the former American Idol winner reflected on his time on the show with humor. “I got the chance to meet a lot of cool people. Beyoncé’s mama pulled me aside and said, ‘Boy, we just love you!’ Lady Gaga, that was interesting,” he added.

He then played a cover of “Check Yes Or No,” the song that George Strait selected him to sing on the reality singing competition in 2011. “God bless the King of Country Music, Mr. George Strait,” McCreery said following his performance. McCreery’s personality shined through his set as the affable singer shared the story behind writing “This Is It” for his now wife, Gabi. “I wanted to write a song for my girlfriend because I knew I was ready to pop the question,” he explained. He’d go on to showcase his rising star power and impressive falsetto on a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” as well as his prowess as a songwriter with set closer “Five More Minutes.”

7:30 p.m. Kane Brown demonstrated his burgeoning star power during his 50-minute set on the Mane Stage. Launching his performance with “Baby Come Back to Me,” the lead track off his 2018 album Experiment, Brown’s set highlighted his genre-bending music with country storytelling, urban beats and country-pop production. Tracks like the feel-good “Weekend” and “Short Skirt Weather” amped up the crowd while his surprise cover of the All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell” had the crowd singing along.

He’d go on to cover Ben E. King’s 1962 hit “Stand By Me” as well as Marshmello’s “Happier” before he segued into his first hit “Used to Love You Sober.” His set ended with a one-two punch of previous chart toppers “Heaven” and “Lose It” as he thanked the crowd for their support. “Thank you guys so much for making my dreams come true. I love y’all,” he concluded.

8:21 p.m. Poison frontman Bret Michaels closed the Palomino tent’s performances for the evening with a high intensity set that included his solo material as well as some Poison classics. “There is a song I absolutely have to do tonight,” he teased before singing Poison’s 1990 hit “Something to Believe In” to an excited audience.

As an American flag was shown on the screen behind him, he brought out “the real rock stars here,” which included veterans and first responders. Moments later the tent broke out into a chant of “U.S.A.” Michaels then closed his set with a spirited performance of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” to which SiriusXM’s Storme Warren and Guy Fieri joined onstage to sing.

8:50 p.m. With a long history serving as opener for Bryan, Georgia native Cole Swindell had a versatile set of high-energy anthems and stirring ballads. His performance also included one of the most heartfelt moments of the day. Before he played the poignant “You Should Be Here,” which he penned after the death of his father, he noticed a country fan holding up a Route 91 sign and he pointed it out to the crowd. “I’m so lucky to get to do this for a living. Music has always been there for me, so I moved to Nashville to be a songwriter,” he explained. “I see a Route 91 sign right there. I’m sending this out to anyone who has ever lost someone you love.”

10:25 p.m. Kicking things off with fan favorite “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” the headliner had the crowd screaming along while he showcased his famous dance moves throughout a dynamic 90-minute set of hits. A month since his last concert, Bryan was visibly happy to be back on stage and his energy never wavered.

“I got a brand new song, it talks about… it just talks about knockin’ damn boots. That’s all I’ve got to say. I’m ready to knock some damn boots tonight,” he said as he prefaced “Knockin’ Boots.”

Set highlights included his 2007 debut single “All My Friends Say,” arena anthem “This Is How We Roll” with Swindell and the optimistic “Most People Are Good.” While Bryan had the crowd of 80,000 people on their feet throughout his headlining set, with two days ahead of music in the desert he warned the excited crowd to "pace yourselves, y'all." 

Festivals 2019