The Long Road 2023: The Big Bad Review – Day 2!

We started off our second day at The Long Road seeing the amazing Tyler Booth over at Buddy’s. Just like Tim Hicks the night before, he was absolutely great, but man I wish he had his full setup and band with him! His voice is utterly incredible, even for a country singer, and his songs translate well over to an acoustic sound. The fun and bounce of the tracks still remained with the stripped back setting. And the crowd loved it, especially for pretty early on! His ‘Keep it Real’ EP is out mid next month and it’s definitely something we’ll be checking out here at Overtone!

After Tyler it was over to the Rhinestone stage for the wonderful Megan McKenna. The first thing I have in my notes is how good the sound was for the set, and honestly it was a running thing throughout the weekend, and not just on the main stage. Even when some of the heavier-handed drummers hit the stage and things got loud, everything was clear and well mixed. Massive props to everyone working sound over the weekend!

Check out more country here.

Back to Megan, though, it was an amazing setlist. Skirting the line between modern pop-country and a more traditional, almost Dolly Parton sound, it was the perfect backdrop to open the Long Road ‘s main stage. It was a really fun show and honestly one of the highlight sets of the day for me!

We headed back over to Buddy’s then for Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse. The band were just as interesting and fun as their title, too. A more blues, soul soaked Americana sound was a great change of pace from the more pop country that we’d had so far in the day. The crowd, though they didn’t seem as knowledgeable of the band as others over the weekend, responded really well to them, too. I’m definitely going to have to check out more of them as the band have a new fan in me!

Then we hightailed it back over to the Rhinestone stage for Jackson Dean. I was pretty excited to see him, and he didn’t disappoint at all! His voice is somehow even more impressive live, which is really saying something. And his darker edge to the country sound is really fantastic, and translates perfectly to a big stage setting. Plus, being a primarily a heavier rock fan, it of course worked for me! Honestly, for someone who is still relatively new to the scene to be this polished and well rounded is impressive. He is already getting huge, but he’s going to be a megastar if this performance and sound is anything to go by. Hopefully next time he’s over here he’s on a bit later and can put on a bit more of a show!

Sadly we couldn’t catch the final couple of Jackson’s track as we headed over to the Front Porch. There was no chance we were missing the incredible Gabe Lee! One of the hardest working people in the genre, as well as being possibly the most successful Asian American in country, Gabe Lee has exploded onto the scene and gotten bigger and bigger with each passing year. Now on his fourth critically-acclaimed release, Lee played a great selection of songs throughout his career. His unique blend of folk, Americana and honky tonk suited the Front Porch so well, and the crowd lapped up every second.

My only slight comment, much like Jackson before, is that there wasn’t much of a show. I know that the music doesn’t exactly lend itself to one, and there were definitely times where I got lost in the music. However, with a full band, everyone just standing there chilling out was a bit odd to watch for this metalhead. Still, an amazing set, with him jumping on keys for the last track being a particular highlight!

We caught the back half of the indie folk Sons of the East in the Interstate tent. While I don’t have a huge amount to say about them as we just chilled out outside the tent, they sounded incredible, and so close to how they do on track. I love this sort of music live, and the band didn’t disappoint at all. I’mma have to see them again at some point and see a full set!

We managed to get a quick interview with Tenille Arts earlier in the day (keep your eyes peeled for it!) so having the chance to see her after was amazing. She’s exactly what you’d expect from a female pop-country singer in her twenties, and it was great. Huge, catchy anthems performed masterfully well by Tenille; her stage presence is captivating. From massive, fantastic original songs like ‘I Hate This’ and ‘Summer Don’t Go’ to a medley of great tracks that inspired her to even (of course) a cover of the best Taylor Swift track ever, it was a stacked, amazing set. I was a fan of her before we went but am an even bigger one now! Amazing stuff!

I managed to hear a lot of Margo Price’s set from the media area, as well as catching a few songs here and there. Her voice was incredible throughout, and she seemed like she put on one hell of a show. I wish we’d have been able to see more of her, but from what I did see I’d highly recommend seeing her live.

Like Sons of the East, we sat outside the tent and caught a good chunk of Nickel Creek’s set. I was familiar with the band already, having reviewed their latest album here. However, they sounded even better live than on track. I always think this sort of slower, more chilled out music does translate better to a live audience, but everyone in and out of the tent was loving it, and they had a pretty packed crowd. Playing a varied, career-spanning set, they were great!

Saturday night headliners Blackberry Smoke absolutely blew me away. I’d only seen them once before, on a rainy Friday afternoon slot at Download festival, so getting to see the full show from them, especially now I was an even bigger fan of their music, was truly magical. Much like a lot of the festival, we got a varied set from across their albums, including big hitters and crowd favourites like ‘Waiting for the Thunder’ and ‘One Horse Town’. And we even got to be treated, being the first big crowd to hear their brand new released single, ‘Dig A Hole’. It was fucking awesome.

Charlie Starr oozes such effortless charisma and stage presence. And the rest of the band have Lynyrd Skynyrd levels of coolness and swagger too. It’s so good to see this awesome band finally getting big slots over here, and watching them playing outdoors on a big stage to a packed crowd as it got dark was truly magic.

The after party for the Saturday were Americas Got Talent alumni Chapel Hart. (Find another album review, this time for them, here). Another band I went into as a fan, and enjoyed thoroughly. All three women sound incredible live and clearly have a lot of fun being on stage with one another. And the packed out tent were having just as much fun, chanting, shouting and practically demanding an encore. And there comes my one and only issue with their setlist: covers. I don’t mind covers at all, and they did a great job with Journey, but they only had a short set and I really like their original stuff. It would have been nice to hear more of it than an extended cover. But hell that’s just me, and the crowd were loving it. Still, a damn good set to round out a damn good day!