Festival - CMA Fest 2024 - 1

The Biggest Takeaways from CMA Fest 2024 – Day 1

June 7, 2024 8:20 pm GMT

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The streets of Nashville were officially transformed into the mecca of country music once again on Thursday (June 6) as the 2024 edition of CMA Fest kicked off bright and early.

Notching the first of four jam-packed days of the genre's finest, newest and most buzzed about artists, it was a nonstop stream of performances from 10am until midnight as country fans of all ages descended on the festivals many different stages.

From the Chevy Riverfront and the Hard Rock, to Spotify House and the coveted Nissan Stadium main stage, it's nearly impossible to capture everything that Thursday had in store... but we're going to do our best to give you the highlights!

In case you weren't able to make it to Music City – or want to relive the magic like us – Jelly Roll and Ashley McBryde will host the CMA Fest TV Special, airing on Tuesday, June 25 at 8/7c on ABC, and streaming on Hulu the next day.

<p>Festival - Dolly Parton @ CMA Fest 2024</p>

Dolly Parton Drops A Bomb (Or Ten!)

Frankly, as soon as Dolly Parton was announced as the Artist of the Day for CMA Fest Day 1, it was the first thing on every attendees to-do list.

With a line wrapped all the way around the block starting at 7:30am (for reference, she didn't take the stage until 10:45), the energy was beyond palpable as we awaited the Queen of Country Music's arrival.

Taking the stage alone at the mic, she proceeded to drop not one, not two, but... honestly, we lost count of how many massive announcements about future plans and projects she made, with even more sure to be up her rhinestone encrusted sleeves.

An original Broadway musical, a Nashville hotel and museum, an upcoming cookbook with her sister Rachel, a new docuseries and a boozy line of Dolly wines later, the crowd was fully satiated with the living legend's slate of activities set to go into place in the coming months.

Before leaving the stage and her sea of adoring fans, Parton serenaded Fan Fair X with an acapella rendition of her famous 'I Will Always Love You,' promising that it was true for all in the room, too.

- Lydia Farthing

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Post Malone performs at Spotify House during CMA Fest at Ole Red on June 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Photography by John Russell Courtesy of Country Music Association

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Post Malone and Blake Shelton perform at Spotify House during CMA Fest at Ole Red on June 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Post Malone Continues His Unstoppable Country Takeover

Ever since Post Malone and Blake Shelton were spotted filming a music video in Nashville earlier in the week, there'd been rumblings of a surprise appearance during CMA Fest. In classic Posty style, he exceeded expectations by delivering not one but two momentous performances, first at the Nissan Stadium and then at Spotify House.

Bringing Shelton along for both sets, the duo's endearing chemistry shone through as they performed the live debut of ‘Somebody Pour Me A Drink’, which is set to feature on Post Malone's forthcoming country album. It's an infectious Friday night anthem that harks back to the party-starting ambience of 2010s country, with Posty then showcasing his versatility at Spotify House with enchanting covers of Vince Gill's ‘One More Last Chance’ and George Strait's ‘Carrying Your Love With Me’.

An acoustic version of Posty's monster hit, ‘I Had Some Help’, and another stunning duet with Blake Shelton of ‘Ole Red’, made all the more special by the fact they were performing it inside Blake's Ole Red bar.

Best Song: ‘Somebody Pour Me A Drink’

- Maxim Mower

<p>Jordan Davis performs at Nissan Stadium on Thursday, June 6 during CMA Fest 2024 in downtown Nashville.</p>

Photography by Hunter Berry Courtesy of Country Music Association

Jordan Davis' Catalogue Is Becoming A Treasure Trove

Let's be honest, Jordan Davis is one of the most reliable and beloved male solo artists in Music City these days. Sure, he may have essentially played this set at the same time last year, but that took nothing away from this hit-filled performance.

'Tucson Too Late' is quickly evolving into a slow-burn Strait sleeper classic, while you'll be hard pressed to find two more beautiful numbers to sing along to than 'Buy Dirt' (Luke Bryan-less this time round) and 'Next Thing You Know' with 70,000 others in the Nissan.

No guests, fancy pyro or gaudy sucking up to the crowd was needed or wanted, with Davis delivering the big guns and showing just why he's got one of the finest catalogue of singles in modern commercial country.

Best Song: 'Tucson Too Late'

- Ross Jones

<p>Artist - Tyler Hubbard CMA Fest 2024 Spotify House 1</p>

Tyler Hubbard at Spotify House during CMA Fest at Ole Red on June 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tyler Hubbard Delivers a Vocal Masterclass

Delivering two sets on the opening day of CMA Fest, Tyler Hubbard proved again why he's the only artist in history to have three consecutive No. 1 singles with two separate careers.

His signature drawl infused a sense of warmth into each track, with the sweet, rose-tinted ‘5 Foot 9’ and his next single, ‘Park’, both highlighting Hubbard's ear for an addictive hook. ‘Dancin’ in the Country’ inevitably brought the biggest reaction from the crowd - particularly at his Spotify House performance - but the energising, ‘80s-pop-tinged ‘Wish You Would’ was the keystone of each setlist.

It epitomises the Georgia hitmaker's willingness to colour outside the lines in terms of genres, as well as the innocence and joy he injects into each track. Hubbard revealed to the crowd that ‘Wish You Would’ is his favourite song to perform - and we can see why.

Best Song: ‘Wish You Would’

- MM

<p>Artist - Little Big Town 4</p>

Little Big Town Shows Out at Spotify House

Few modern bands in country music have the impact and influence as Little Big Town.

A dearly beloved quartet of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook, they're a group with such a revered catalogue that they can basically do no wrong.

Ringing in the evening performances at the fifth annual Spotify House, the powerhouse group brought their long list of hits to Blake Shelton's Ole Red, including 'Girl Crush,' 'Wine, Beer & Whiskey,' 'Boondocks' and 'Pontoon,' among others.

In one of their only 2024 CMA Fest appearances, and in only a mere thirty minutes, they effortlessly reminded the packed out audience why their staying power in the genre is simply bar none.

Best Song: 'Girl Crush'

- LF

<p>Artist - Thomas Rhett @ Spotify House 1</p>

Thomas Rhett performs at Spotify House during CMA Fest at Ole Red on June 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Thomas Rhett is a Hit Machine

Taking the stage at Spotify House in Ole Red, Thomas Rhett rattled through his expansive catalogue of chart-toppers, serenading the crowd with the heartwarming ‘Die a Happy Man’, the galvanising ‘Life Changes’ and the jubilant ‘Look What God Gave Her’.

When a stadium headliner performs such an intimate set, sometimes it can feel as though they'd rather be out in front of tens of thousands of fans - but from the moment he strode into the building, Rhett was beaming from ear to ear, delivering each track with a sense of genuine happiness and excitement at getting to perform.

He treated the crowd to his new track, ‘Gone Country’, with the uptempo track - and indeed, Rhett's set as a whole - serving as a reminder that few other artists in modern country boast the the consistent hit-making ability that he does.

Best Song:

- MM

<p>Ashley McBryde and Gretchen Wilson perform at Nissan Stadium on Thursday, June 6 during CMA Fest 2024 in downtown Nashville.</p>

Photography by Hunter Berry Courtesy of Country Music Association

No One Should Be Sleeping On Ashley McBryde

Another beloved staple of the country music community, the fact Ashley McBryde's played the Nissan last year took nothing away from this punchy and energetic set from the Arkansas singer-songwriter.

First off, bringing Gretchen Wilson out for a duet of 'Redneck Woman' was pure gold - a joyous kegger of a singalong that had the crowd punching the air and dancing in their boots across the Nissan field right up to the bleeders. It's about time everyone else recognised Wilson's brilliance, and this goes someway to introducing the younger audience in attendance to such an influential cog of the 2000s revival.

McBryde, as always, was the consummate entertainer - a ripping guitarist, empowering and welcoming host and powerhouse singer. It's the new songs that really took hold tonight though; closing out on 'The Devil I Know' was particularly potent, as McBryde effortlessly balled up the crowd into the palm of her hand with a coaxing vocal performance.

Best Song: 'Redneck Woman' (With Gretchen Wilson)

- RJ

<p>Emily Ann Roberts performs at the Good Molecules Reverb Stage on Thursday, June 6 during CMA Fest 2024 in downtown Nashville.</p>

Emily Ann Roberts Again Proves She's One to Watch

Having dropped her debut full-length album in April, it felt as though there was a strong surge of momentum behind Emily Ann Roberts as she stormed onto the Good Molecules Stage. Joking with the crowd in-between songs - and even at one point, commanding any single audience-members to go and mingle, with her set as the soundtrack - the fast-emerging artist looked at ease throughout her performance.

The playful, raunchy ‘Chickens’ underlined Roberts’ wit and swagger, while the Shania Twain-interpolating ‘Find Me a Man’ had the afternoon crowd dancing along like it was midnight. Judging from this set, it's clear why the Tennessee singer-songwriter is being touted by many as one of country music's next big things.

Best Song: ‘Find Me a Man’

- MM

<p>Artist - Cole Swindell @ Spotify House</p>

Cole Swindell performs at Spotify House during CMA Fest at Ole Red on June 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Cole Swindell Strips it Down at Ole Red

Spotify House has proven over the last five years to be one of the buzziest and most exciting stages in all of CMA Fest. With music running all day on a constant stream, some of the genre's finest talent is always tapped to take the stage. On the other side of that coin, the stage has also become a spot for established and beloved artists to perform for – sometimes – their only show of the weekend.

The latter was true for tried and true hitmaker Cole Swindell, who treated to the sardine-packed crowd to a fully acoustic set at 7:30pm. Joined by his two guitar players, with trusty acoustics in hand, the Georgia native went back through the last 10 years of singles and fan-favorites, from his debut 'Chillin' It' to his newest, career-defining No. 1, 'She Had Me At Heads Carolina.'

Though far from the most exciting or interesting sets of the day, Swindell has an undeniable charm and charisma that shines through his raspy, hit-laden catalogue.

Best Song: 'She Had Me At Heads Carolina'

- LF

<p>Warren Zeiders @ CMA Fest</p>

Warren Zeiders Stirs Up a Storm Under the Nashville Sun

As soon as Warren Zeiders sauntered confidently onto the Chevy Riverfront Stage dressed all in black, it was clear the bearded crooner was about to summon the stormy atmosphere that permeates much-loved hits such as ’Pretty Little Poison’.

Zeiders’ set was full to the brim with drama and gravitas, with the up-and-comer's trademark gravelly vocals accentuating the angst of his brand new track, ‘Relapse’.

While his distinctive voice was the centrepiece when combined with the sparse instrumentals of Zeiders’ ballads, ‘Relapse’ offered the Pennsylvania singer-songwriter the chance to showcase the more uptempo, rock-leaning side of his artistry.

Best Song: ‘Relapse’

- MM

For more on CMA Fest 2024, see below:

Written by Lydia Farthing
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