It didn’t take long for Florida Georgia Line to get the crowd ready to party Friday night, headlining the first day of Stagecoach with a powerful, flame-filled set drawing one of the largest crowds in recent memory for a headlining performance.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, the country duo who first performed on a day-stage five years ago at the Indio, California festival, rocked and rapped their way through a fiery set blasting through hits like “H.O.L.Y,” “Get Your Shine On,” and “Cruise” with a full band and a raucous, energetic set that was watched by tens of thousands of fans, completely filling the huge general admission section at the Empire Polo Club running the entire length of the field.
FGL brought out the 11-year-old Mason Ramsey, aka ‘Walmart Yodel kid’ as an encore to their Coachella set, as well as Jason Derulo to perform FGL’s hit “This is How We Roll.”
But there was a small disappointment during their performance — the absence of the FGL’s latest collaborator Bebe Rexha. “Meant to Be” is the biggest track of 2018 for both FGL and Rexha, but the pop star was in Europe Friday night and unable to join Hubbard and Kelley on stage to perform the smash hit which has spent 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
Instead Kelley and Hubbard sang the song without Rexha and played a backing track for Rexha’s part of the song, video-taping the audience reaction with their phones and eventually having the audience sing Rexha’s verse.
The band was also joined on stage during their set by Mane stage performers Chris Lane and Jake Owen for the track “Sun Daze” as well as up-and-coming bro-country star and mullet wearing twangy performer Morgan Wallen, who joined the boys on stage for the countryfied song “Up Down,” one of the many highlights of FGL’s nearly two-hour set.
FGL’s appearance on the Mane stage capped off a strong day one that saw sets by Jake Owen, Chris Lane and fast-rising star Kelsea Ballerini who mesmerized the crowd during her sunset set on the Mane stage with a flawless performance of her growing catalog including her hit single “I Hate Love Songs.” One of the most exciting elements of her performance was a country-music medley that started with Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and wrapped with a powerful version of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey.”
Ballerni’s biggest hit of the night was her song “Dibs,” although many said they loved her performance of “Yeah Boy” which showed off the rhinestone-bedazzled denim jumpsuit-wearing vixen’s guitar playing skills.
Overall the Stagecoach crowds filled in relatively fast Friday and stayed packed throughout the evening, with tens of thousands of female fans in bikinis taking Instagram-tastic selfies while packs of shirtless men showed off their buff bods and tattoos, many dressing the part of weekend cowboy with requisite boots, cowboy hat and bandana.
The venue’s VIP Diamond Saloon was a who’s who of music industry personalities and Goldenvoice power players. Prior to the FGL set, AEG Live’s Jay Marciano hosted a short happy hour in a secret tiki bar behind the Palomino stage, rewarding those who found the rehabbed train car decorated with blowfish and Tiki gods with needed air conditioning and specialized cocktails.
Stagecoach continues today with an amazing lineup that includes Texas upstarts Midland, Alabama bad-boy Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit, country music legend Dwight Yoakam, fast rising star Kacey Musgraves and Nashville hitmaker and American Idol judge Keith Urban.