Country Thunder Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence, Arizona Friday, April 13, 2012
I'm not superstitious, but it's hard to brush off the supreme bad luck I had on Friday the 13th, attempting to drive my Nissian Maxima to Day 2 of the four-day country festival Country Thunder. I'm from Houston, and was curious how it would stack up against Livestock and Rodeo where I come from. Stacks up pretty well -- Country Thunder has years of experience under its belt, marquee names like Jake Owen and Big and Rich, and a reputation for one of the wildest parties in the West.
But if you're not entirely sure where you're headed, it can be kind of a nightmare to get to. I'll probably tell my kids the story of my adventure one day, about how my GPS lead me off-roading, about being stuck for more than an hour on Mineral Mountain Road, and how eventually I stumbled upon a massive confluence of country fans, revelers, and music in a field out in Florence.
After botched plans for Triple A to assist my stuck car, I was assisted by the Pinal County Sheriff's Department, no doubt a group of folks working very, very hard this weekend. Then, I got pulled over by the Arizona Highway Patrol -- for going to slow on the freeway (first time for everything).
By the time I made it to the event, my car was making disturbing noises, I was exhausted, but ready for some food. I had plenty of of overpriced option to choose from, but went with some fried chicken, pizza, and deep fried corn. And yeah, I demolished everything. With my head on straight, I was ready to go.
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The atmosphere included cows, a few rides, stores, pop-up food and beer stations of course, a Frat House, the main stage and something new this year: an electronic tent dubbed Electric Thunder.
I love EDM, but I'm also proud of my country roots. How do you go about mixing the two? I'm not sure. I find it hard the two difficult to mix, unless you want to bring in Pretty Lights to drop his country music take that he produced for the documentary film: Re:Generation. Let's just say this boot-scooters stuck to two-stepping (no scissoring or drop-inspired freakouts). Clearly, Country Thunder was interested in bringing in a new element, and heck if they didn't. Just not too sure it was necessary.
Some wind picked up, making for a cold breeze that Jake Owen battled by heating things up on stage. His voice got the crowd on their feet dancing and singing. His song, "Alone With You" led me teaching a few fellow members of the crowd how to Texas Two-Step. His twangy-voiced girls screamed out the lyrics or just screaming in general. Owen's typical complaints about not being able to buy his girl a big diamond ring and everything else he can't do. But there is one thing he can do and that is love you. Clearly explained in his song, "Don't Think I Can't Love You."
By the time Big & Rich were on stage, the crowd was already having themselves a "Big & Rich time." The duo tells it how it is, and Nashville duo Big Kenny and John Rich, demands their fans be resourceful. Reminding the girls to "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy." Plenty of ladies in the audience took note, and got to swapping spit with the dudes. The duo's chants and pure alternative country rock had the crowd on their feet dancing the night away.
The whole damn time I kept thinking "Are we really in Florence?" Crowd members were spotted to be U of A or ASU hats, with every one willing to drive out for nothing more than the music and a place to camp out with friends and get drunk. Some people told me they had no clue where Florence was before Country Thunder. Neither did I -- or my GPS.
Last Night: Country Thunder at Canyon Moon Ranch
The Crowd: All ages. Mostly drinkers. Girls walking around in bikini tops, shorts and boots. Guy wearing overalls or just simple no shirt and shorts with boots. Everyone topping it off with a cowboy hat.
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Overheard: "Damn I can't walk straight. Fuck it!"
Personal Bias: I honestly thought the line-up was awesome this year. I will say I wish we had a few returning from previous years line-ups. Like Jason Aldean and Toby Keith.
Random Notebook Dump: Bring a jacket tomorrow and may rent a truck!