WE FEST: Keith Urban engages Day 1 crowd
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Keith Urban may be Australian, but he sure knows how to engage a Midwestern crowd.
The singer/guitarist headlined the first night of WE Fest just outside Detroit Lakes on Thursday.
Urban took the stage to his hit "Kiss a Girl" and immediately won over the crowd, or at least the female demographic.
Even men enjoyed the energetic performance and the fiery fret work he whipped out on the chart-topper "Days Go By."
With his stage moves and facial expressions shown on the Jumbotron, he had fans singing along with "I'm In."
"Some performers want crowds to sit and listen to music and be on their best behavior," he said before "Sweet Thing."
"This is not one of those concerts," he continued. "We want you to be on your baddest behavior."
Montgomery Gentry really got the party started. In fact, that was their stated mission a number of times early in their set.
The duo's energy and catchy choruses make for immediate stadium anthems like "Hell Yeah."
While singer/guitarist Troy Gentry stuck close to his illuminated microphone stand, singer Eddie Montgomery prowled the stage, twirling his stand, thrusting it toward the crowd to encourage sing-alongs.
For whatever reason, "My Town" didn't prompt quite as enthusiastic response as I expected (maybe people are tired of the ubiquitous ode to civic pride), but "One in Every Crowd" hit closer to home.
The testosterone twosome brought the show to a close covering KISS' "Rock and Roll All Nite" before ending with their own "Gone."
Sugarland was announced as the third headliner for next year's WE Fest. The duo will play Friday night, Aug. 5. Tickets are already on sale starting at $79 for three-day general-admission passes.
Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden was invited on stage to thank all the people for aiding the town after a tornado ripped through in June.
"It was very humbling," he later said backstage, adding that he and his wife usually work at WE Fest but were taking the year off to focus on the recovery process.
The second band of the day, Gloriana, played (at least) five entire cover songs (and bits of at least two) in their 90-minute set. In comparison, openers 32 Below of Fargo played no covers in their hourlong spot.
Gloriana was a hit at their first WE Fest performance, but the country quartet had a misstep in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. They introduced "It Ain't Me, Babe," dedicating it to fans of Johnny Cash. The Man in Black did have a hit with the song, but it was written by Hibbing's own Bob Dylan.
Froggy 99.9 FM may be the official regional radio sponsor, but rival Bob 95 FM is quite effective at crashing the party. The number of Bob "Unofficial Again in 2010" T-shirts outnumbered Froggy smocks. Bob also hired a plane to fly a banner that read "Officially party trained. Bob 95 FM."
If you go
What: WE Fest
When: Today and Saturday
Where: Soo Pass Ranch, Detroit Lakes
Tickets: Range from single-day passes for $59 for a limited time to $1,000 for VIP seats. www.wefest.com. (800) 493-3378