When Lady Antebellum closed out Day 2 of the Stagecoach Festival, they namechecked all the performers who'd preceded them on the "Mane Stage" Saturday, from Dierks Bentley on down to early-afternoon opener Jana Kramer. They didn't mention anyone who'd played over in the tents, where some of the real action was.
We don't just mean musical action, either. It was over yonder at the alt-country-oriented Mustang Stage where actor Ashton Kutcher spent much of the day hanging out, and where he got into a significant tussle with security guards while waiting for Dwight Yoakam to take the stage, according to a TMZ report. A little bit earlier, Kutcher had taken his own photo of the little-known band the Lone Bellow and tweeted to his 14 million followers that they were "the next thing in country music." But some time after that, he reportedly went from his backstage perch to greet a fan, security tried to intervene, shoving ensued, and a guard supposedly tried to have him thrown out.
Justin Townes Earle, the acclaimed singer-songwriter who'd played earlier and was also hanging out backstage at the Mustang Stage, tweeted about what was apparently that same incident, without mentioning Kutcher. "Just got a badge pulled on me 'cause I was correcting (a) f***ed situation. Way to go boys! That's earning that paycheck... Boooo!"
Kutcher reportedly left after the shoving incident, but Earle, at least, hung around long enough to tweet, "Dwight sang his ass off tonight!" That was certainly a consensus among the crowd that packed the Mustang tent for the first time all weekend, even though Yoakam twice mentioned that he'd been laid up sick all week and was "just glad to get out of the house."
Yoakam was one of a couple of Saturday's performers to pay homage to the recently late George Jones. He interrupted the upbeat "Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose" to say, "Gonna interrupt the show for a minute to do one for Mr. George Jones," and sang a plaintive version of Jones's lesser-known prison ballad, "Life to Go"--before segueing right back, incongruously but expertly, into the rousing coda of "Turn it On."
Dierks Bentley also saluted Jones later over on the Mane Stage. Bentley brought out Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters (who'd performed with his own country band, the Dead Peasants, earlier in the afternoon) to perform with him on one of Jones's classic ballads, "Walk Through This World With Me." The mostly twentysomething crowd might've been a little slow to realize what they were hearing, since Bentley never mentioned Jones's name out loud. He just put a photo of the Possum on the screen behind him and let the audience figure the homage out on their own.
During Lady Antebellum's climactic set, Bentley joined the vocal trio for another cover--not of Jones, but of Bruce Springsteen. "We haven't run through this," Charles Kelley warned the crowd. Earlier in the day, he said, "I started thinking of all the cover songs we've done over the years, and I thought, 'I bet Dierks Bentley could make the girls swoon with this one.'" The song choice was "I'm on Fire," which used to be a staple of Lady A's sets, though Kelley said they hadn't done it in three years. It seemed to have the desired effect. "Look at 'em swoon!" he said after they collectively wrapped up the tune, pointing to Bentley, "the skinniest guy in country music." The collaboration hadn't gone off flawlessly, but, Kelley added, "Not bad for no rehearsal. I'll take it."
Things went perfectly on another Lady A cover, of "Back Where I Come From," which Kelley introduced as "one of my favorite Kenny Chesney songs." That came at the close of an acoustic mini-set, which gave the seven-months-pregnant Hillary Scott what must have been a welcome chance to sit on a stool for 10 minutes. "Let's do one more 'stripped' for 'em," Kelley said, "since a lot of 'em look extremely close to being stripped already. They're very scantily clad, I've noticed."
That might have been the understatement of the weekend, but wearing as little clothing as possible was not just a fashion statement but a survival tactic Saturday. The thermometer at the festival's location in Indio, California, hit 104 degrees, a record for Stagecoach (and was expected to hit the same mark for day three on Sunday). If there were altercations between stars and security, maybe some of that could be put down to craziness from the heat.
Not everyone got the memo about near-nakedness, though, least of all onstage. Dwight Yoakam wore his trademark jean jacket, which would have been bad enough before the sun went behind the mountains in the middle of his set. But his band members must've been secretly cursing him, as most of them were clad in dark coats encrusted in rhinestones that looked to weigh about 100 pounds.
Marty Stuart was also a slave to fashion. Despite playing during the hottest part of the afternoon, Stuart didn't alter his usual classic garb. If you're wondering if Marty always wears a black neckerchief to go with his black suit, even when it's 104, the answer is yes.