Review by Rebecca Mattina
Photos by Nicole Wolfe
When you mix Friday night with country music you’re guaranteed a party. Since this was my first Boots and Hearts, I knew to expect good music and great energy – and that’s exactly what I got.
It wasn’t easy making the trek back and forth from the Front Porch Stage to the Main Stage, but it was definitely worth it to catch each act in their element. Everyone played their hearts out and seems genuinely excited and humbled to play these stages; I had the chance to see artists like Filmore, Jake Rose, Drew Baldridge, and Dylan Scott for the first time and I highly recommend checking each of them out.
Because there were so many dynamite acts, we put together a few highlights. We can’t wait to see what Saturday’s lineup has in store for us.
John, and James Abrams sure made us proud to call them Canadian boys today. They drew an impressive crowd for their early 2:40 p.m start time and wasted no time getting the crowd on their feet dancing and singing along. They mixed their originals with a couple of covers, ending with a fiery performance of “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Their energy may be hard to match, I hope they get their main stage moment at next year’s festival.
Does it get much better than three woman on stage with flawless harmonies and catchy songs? Because that’s exactly what Runaway June delivered. Naomi, Jennifer, and Hannah, remind us why we need more women on the Boots and Hearts stage. They celebrated landing a Top 20 country airplay hit with the fun and fierce “Buy My Own Drinks” – the first all-female group to do this in nearly a decade according to Billboard. It didn’t take long watching them on the main stage to see what’s so special about this trio. Their songs speak directly to women and their infectious choruses hook you instantly. You can’t deny the swag and stage presence Naomi brings, and how much fun she has on stage with her girls.
Hurd’s name is synonymous in country music with writing hit songs – from Dierks Bentley to Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, and his partner-in-crime, wife and Boots headliner Maren Morris – now he’s stepping into the spotlight with his own music. Let me tell you I haven’t seen someone with such electric energy and raw musical talent in a long time. Watching his genuine gratitude as the crowd sang along to hits like “Diamonds or Twine” and “To a T” – and his co-writes on Luke Bryan’s “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” and Lady Antebellum’s newest “What If I Never Get Over You” was truly special to witness. His stage career is just beginning and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Fresh off his opening slot with Lady Antebellum, Levi Hummon played his second-ever Canadian show to the Front Porch Stage crowd. Clearly taking cues from acts like Lady A, and Hunter Hayes whom he’s both toured with this year – having the time of his life on stage while he treated us to a few of his crossover-style jams like “Songs We Sang” and “Drop of Us.” He is as talented as he is darling to watch (confirmed when I looked around and saw all the ladies dancing). Hummon made sure to have as much fun as he possibly could with his short time slot.
Possibly one of the fastest rising talents, Michael Ray’s set was a full on party. The electric energy right from his opener “Fan Girl” down to his duet of “Red Dirt Road” with friend and former tour mate Chase Rice – that’ right, Chase blessed us twice in two days and we are eternally grateful. Having never seen Michael Ray live before I was impressed with his solid vocals and his charming stage presence. Even more charming? Rocking his wife’s tour merch- fellow Boots performer (Sunday) Carly Pearce.
Friday marked my fourth time seeing Maren and I’ll continue to see her as long as she tours. We all know how talented she is but she brings an incredible ease and energy to a live stage. Mixing some throwback hits like “80s Mercedes” and of course “My Church” with songs off her sophomore album including “The Bones,” “Feels,” “GIRL”, and my personal favourite “Make Out With Me.” She worked the crowd, the stage, and even treated us to a duet of “All My Favourite People” with her husband Ryan Hurd. She is undeniable on stage and proved she has what it takes to headline a crowd of thousands.
I was really intrigued to see what a headlining Cole Swindell show looked like, having seen him once before opening for Florida Georgia Line back in 2016. Short answer: it’s a rowdy party. Not surprising given how many Swindell songs are about just that. Swindell belted out some of his number one hits on the main stage like “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and “Break Up in the End” – oh, and Chase Rice made another appearance (no complaints here) to have a quick drink with Cole because it’s Boots and Hearts and there’s always a reason to celebrate. With a deep voice that carried well throughout the field, Swindell made sure every end of the stage got some attention during his 75 minute set; and the fans seemed to give him the same love right back.
I’m Nicole, a biology teacher by day, but my life revolves around music. I’m that girl that you will always find with the concert t-shirt on and ear buds in. It is rare that you find me without some type of music playing in the background. I connect all of my life experiences to music. It truly has its own language in my heart. There is nothing more exciting than taking in all that a concert has to offer. I love to support local Canadian acts and attend as many shows that I can.