Tree Town Festival Day 1 – Shot Through the Heart
By Alicia Pack
The wind was howling, and the clouds had rolled in early Friday at Tree Town Festival in Forest City, Iowa, but that didn’t stop eager country fans from waiting for the gates to open. Once they unlocked, the clouds parted, the sun started shining, and the wind died down just enough for Morgan Wallen’s mullet to billow majestically in the breeze.
Iowan Jesse Allen kicked off Friday’s festivities, and his deep vocals and fun, relatable lyrics warmed up the crowd. Little Texas soon followed with a country-rock set you couldn’t help but shake your hips to.
Next up was hands-down winner for best hair of a singer and band. Morgan Wallen came out strong with favorites “The Way I Talk” and “Whiskey Glasses,” with the chorus heard could sung throughout the night by campers. One of his “favorite songs ever,” Wallen slowed it down for “Cover Me Up,” a newly released song on YouTube that’s resonating with his audience.
After slowing it down, Wallen kicked it into high gear with a montage covering “In the End,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” Shot Through the Heart,” “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Wallen finished with his first number one song as a songwriter, “You Make it Easy,” and his first number one as a singer, “Up Down.”
As the sun was setting, American Idol alum Lauren Alaina took us back to her roots with “Georgia Peaches” and a cover of “Paradise City.” Alaina asked if anyone else had a crazy family and to raise your hand if you do. “If you didn’t raise your hand, you’re part of the problem,” she joked before saying family was the inspiration for “Doin’ Fine.”
The highlight of the night was Alaina’s “Next Boyfriend,” where she brought Morgan Wallen out to strut his stuff. Wallen tried his best to shake it, and she tried her best not to crack up at his dance moves while singing.
Alaina went on to play her favorite song she’s written, “Faithfully,” crowd favorite “Ladies in the ‘90s,” “Road Less Traveled,” and her second number one, “What Ifs.”
Once dark, headliner Dierks Bentley exploded onto stage with hit “Burning Man,” bringing everyone to their feet. It was his first show of the summer, and he came ready to party. Bentley went on to play hits from then and now with “Somewhere on a Beach,” “Woman, Amen,” “Black,” “I Hold On” and “5-1-5-0.”
He slowed the pace a bit for “Living,” “Riser,” “Different for Girls” and “The Mountain,” but with Bentley, slower never means less energy. He utilized the entire stage to shake hands and acknowledge the crowd. He had a mic stand setup on the extended stage, in the thick of the crowd, and played most of his set there. Then it was back to the party and back to his big hair days with “Am I the Only One,” “What was I Thinkin’” and “Sideways.”
Bentley finished the night with an inflight safety parody video before performing encores “Drunk on a Plane” and “Free and Easy.”
If you missed Friday’s show, Tree Town announced that this year is the last Tree Town as we know it. Next year, Country Thunder will roll into Forest City June 12-14.