While Blake Shelton got most of his headline set in at Country Jam USA on July 24, the lightning that drifted in the distance eventually turned into a tornado watch shortly before 11 p.m. Regardless, Shelton delivered a top notch show for roughly 90 minutes. Kip Moore and Cassadee Pope also offered strong sets on a hot and muggy evening.
Cassadee Pope quickly showed why she finished atop the 2012 season of The Voice as the show’s first female champion. Pope combined original material with a couple choice covers to entertain the crowd for an hour-long show. She performed in a fashionable short skirt, shapely blouse that exposed her tight mid-section while deftly maneuvering in high heels. Opening with “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart,” and interacting with a crowd that swarmed the T-shaped catwalk, she handily demonstrated her powerful voice. Pope also showed an uncanny ability at multitasking–singing “Proved You Wrong” while signing fans hats without missing a beat.
Mixing up the show, Pope announced that she wanted to cover one of her “favorite songs of all time” and gave a solid rendition of her take on the Eagles’ “Hotel California.” She also worked through Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” She later thanked the fans and country radio for changing her life as she launched into her biggest hit, “Wasting All These Tears,” before closing with “Good Times.”
Kip Moore hit the stage at 7:30 p.m., toasting the crowd with a red solo cup, for a 70-minute show. He offered a nice contrast to Pope’s set with an energetic, bass-thumping performance behind his signature gritty vocals. Favorites included “Beer Money,” “Dirt Road,” and an all-out dance party erupted during “Somthin’ ‘Bout a Truck.”
Moore also got a great reaction from the crowd during Jim Eat World’s “The Middle” and followed Cassedee Pope’s lead with a cover of Petty’s “Free Fallin'” to end his show. He was very appreciative of the fans and said, “I just bragged about this state for 15 minutes,” referring to his pre-show interview and suggested Wisconsin has some of his most passionate supporters. He later gushed, “Y’all are one of the first states to embrace us!”
Blake Shelton escaped from the recent tabloid media frenzy during his time on stage Friday night, and was all smiles as he opened with “Neon Light.” Shelton paused and took time to absorb the size of the crowd then noted, “What in the hell is wrong with you people…look at all these country music freaks out here.” He added, “Let me get this out of the way, I’m nervous tonight and I tend to drink when I get nervous,” eliciting thousands of hands to toast him with their drinks. He then joked with some of the male fans, “I know some of you dudes have something better to do tonight, but you did it because she wanted you to be here tonight,” that segued into “Doin’ What She Likes.”
Setting his guitar aside for “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” Shelton’s voice shined while also drawing emotion from the heartfelt lyrics. It showcased his country roots and established why he’s amongst the top of heap in the country world. He stepped back to his earlier material, “Some Beach” followed by his rendition of “Ol’ Red,” to the delight of the fans that were singing along. Other highlights for the crowd included “Hillbilly Bone” and “Boys ‘Round Here” before weather began to envelop the festival grounds.
Shortly after Kip Moore performed, festival promoters announced that the 2016 lineup will include bro-country superstars Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and Cole Swindell. Country Jam USA concludes on Saturday with Eric Church. Gary Allan, Jarred Niemann and Ashley Monroe.