ACM Party For A Cause Festival: Saturday @ The ACM Experience
One of my favorite events of the weekend was the Party For A Cause Festival that took place during the day at the New Orleans Hotel & Casino. Hosted by Kix Brooks, the show kicked off in the early afternoon with a dynamic line up of great artists from radio staples like Dierks Bentley and Kix Brooks, to up-and-comers like Dustin Lynch and Love and Theft.
The first artist to take the stage on Saturday was Dustin Lynch, kicking off the festival with a high energy performance that got everyone excited and ready to dive into an all day country music experience. With boy-next door good looks and his bad-boy cowboy attire, he definitely got the girls in the audience going crazy, tenfold when he dove into his breakout hit “She Cranks My Tractor.” There’s a little bit of a Luke Bryan good-time feel to his performances, boarding on the high-energy that Bryan often exhibits when he performs, just a little more on the tame side. Maybe it’s age and he still needs to grow into his confidence, but either way, he definitely has what it takes to make a dent in the market.
My favorite moment was when he touched on his other single, “Cowboys and Angels,” a massive hit that definitely put Dustin on the map. Written about his grandparents and their love that’s exceeded 50 years, he was inspired to put their love story in a song that turned into a huge mainstream radio hit. He’s emotive, but more importantly he knows how to connect with his audience, he knows exactly what they want to hear and makes sure to incorporate all of that into his songwriting. I’m excited for where Dustin’s career is going to take him after seeing him perform, and judging by the audiences reaction, I don’t think I’m the only one.
Up next was Love & Theft, the vocal trio that recently saw the exit of their lead singer leaving them as a duo. I’ve watched these guys for a few years, through the change up of their group, to where they are now. It’s stunning to me how much they’ve exploded over the past year. With the insane success of “Angel Eyes” I’ve seen them go from marginally known to dominating the radio airways, and their newest single “Runnin’ Out Of Air” seeing even more success, it’s obvious that they’re not going anywhere.
The downside here is that, next to the act before them, Love and Theft lack energy and fall a little flat when they’re on stage. At least, they did at this particular performance. I’m one for second chances, this was only the first time I’ve seen them, and the sound during their set definitely saw it’s fair share of issues that could have contributed to what was happening on stage. While girls still go crazy for them, it was hard to hear their vocals and some of the time their harmonies were off enough to where I was concerned maybe they couldn’t even hear each other.
I’m a fan of their music, their songs are catchy, they fit into the country radio format really well. But as performers, they could really stand to learn a few things from watching other groups similar to themselves. When you’re sandwiched between performers like Dustin Lynch and Hunter Hayes, it’s imperative that you learn to command attention from your audience with a high-energy, explosive performance that leaves a lasting impression in the minds of people who might walk away talking about it for weeks, months, years… or maybe not at all.