DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Over the past decade, Kenny Chesney has taken country to the beach. Which made him a natural to headline WE Fest just outside Detroit Lakes.
The singer closed out the three-day festival Saturday night with an energetic set of summer party anthems, like the openers "Beer in Mexico" and "Keg in the Closet."
Anyone following the previous night's headliners, Keith Urban and Kid Rock, would have had their work cut out for them. All Chesney had to do was show why he's been the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year four times in the past five years.
Anyone who hasn't seen Chesney (between Fargo and WE Fest, he seems to be through at least every other year) was likely won over by his heated performance at the end of a muggy day. By "Big Star," the third song in, he'd broken a good sweat moving from one end of the stage to the other.
The previous act, Dierks Bentley, had the energy to headline and bounced across the stage to tunes like "Feel That Fire," "Lot of Leavin' Left To Do" and "Sideways."
The girls in the crowd especially appreciated the curly-haired country crooner, and he appreciated the girls in "little white tank tops" by singing "What Was I Thinkin'."
Gretchen Wilson was the only solo female on the WE Fest lineup, but she was more than tough enough for the late afternoon crowd, opening with her anthem, "Here for the Party."
WE Fest, of course, is all about partying, and Wilson dedicated "There's a Place for the Whiskey" to the crowd. A couple songs later, she cracked open a bottle of Jack Daniels and took a pull before "Walk on Water." The bottle came back later for "All Jacked Up."
Joe Nichols tapped the party theme earlier in the day.
"We'd like to get everybody drunk by the time Kenny Chesney gets onstage."
With six hours to go and the temperature in the 80s and humid, chances were good that was going to happen. The odds improved even more when he played his hits "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" and "Let's Get Drunk and Fight."
Despite all the drinking, Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon said the overall number of incidents was down.
"For the amount of people we're dealing with, there are minimal problems," he said late Saturday afternoon.
He said his officers were investigating one assault and two charges of sexual misconduct.
Gordon said alcohol was a factor in many of the calls they received.
He said the numbers of incidents have gone down across the board for the past few years because of a more aggressive approach by being more visible.
* While Brad Paisley, Sugarland and Rascal Flatts have all signed on for next year, emcee Tom Katt said WE Fest was working on signing Carrie Underwood and the Zac Brown Band. He added that the Eagles and Jimmy Buffett were on his wish list.
* WE Fest fans from Fargo got to see one of their own on the big stage Friday night.
Shannon Curfman, the former teen blues singer/guitarist sensation, joined Kid Rock as the newest member of his Twisted Brown Trucker Band.
For most of the 90-minute set, Curfman sang backup, but for Rock's ballad "Picture," she joined him up front. Curfman's bluesy voice fit well filling Sheryl Crow's familiar part.
The former Fargo singer out-muscled Rock's rasp, though he got the biggest applause. After her line "I was off to church," Rock repeated the next line, playing to the crowd, "I was off to drink you away."
He introduced her by name but neglected to mention Curfman was from Fargo and summered around Detroit Lakes.
Rock fans probably didn't mind, as they got see the rap-rocker bring Jason Aldean up for a few songs, like their cover of Waylon Jennings' "The Dukes of Hazard" theme.