Moon River Music Festival kicked off with a bang on Saturday night with a huge crowd and stacked lineup.
Moon River, a product of Drew Holcomb, featured artists ranging across country, Americana, indie rock, R'n'B, and more. Friday's headliners were The National and Zach Bryan, but also featured performances from nine other artists including Briston Maroney, LUCIUS, and Drew Holcomb himself.
Indie-rockers The National headlined the night. The Grammy award winning musicians are in the prime of their career. After critical and fan success, The National have established themselves firmly in the music indsutry. The band's performance was etherial, truly an inspiring performance. Raw skill radiated from everyone on stage and frontman Aaron Dessner had full control oof the stage.
Rising country music star Zach Bryan closed out the Iris Stage. The amount of people crowded towards the stage for his set was quite possibly the largest of the weekend. An easy fan favorite, Zach Bryan has quickly gained a massive following online and it has translated heavily to his live performances. A brilliant songwriter and a humble performer, Zach is a name that is sure to continue popping up on festival bills for years to come.
Festival host Drew Holcomb and his band The Neighbors warmed up the stage for The National. Being the founder of the festival, it was expected Drew & company would bring out all the stops. Their performance had a huge array of features, from Drew's wife & fellow musician Ellie Holcomb, Mat Kearney, Wild Rivers, Daniel Nunnelee, and even Drew's children.
LUCIUS was a name I was not super familiar with going into the festival. Clearly I was the outlier. Despite the midday set, fans were out in full force for their set. The quintet, fronted by duo Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, might just be the most eccentric act of the weekend. Wild matching outfits, and eclectic selection of instruments, and a weird duality between their front women made the act stand out with ease.
A poster child of modern Bluegrass, Greensky Bluegrass came out shredding. Blending the sounds of classic Bluegrass with the ethos of jam-rock, Greensky were pioneers of this latest wave in the genre. A melody of banjo, mandolin, upright bass, acoustic guitar, and dobro create the beautiful string arrays and sounds of Bluegrass, but then the booming stomps and vocals throw in the spirit of rock.
Briston Maroney, a native of Knoxville, was a fan favorite. The indie rocker has had quite the come up the past few years, hopping on huge festivals across the country and touring from coast to coast. Wild and animated, Briston was an absolute blast to watch perform.
Mat Kearney came out with the good feels and an exciting set. Folk-meets-pop, Mat Kearney channels contemporaries in a way you wouldn't expect. Much of his set had the energy of mid-2000s Coldplay and OneRepublic, while staying in the vein of singer/songwriter that Moon River is known for. High energy, bass heavy, and performative as can be, his set got the crowd roaring.
Natalie Hemby is a name you might not know, but you definitely know her work. A veteran writer in Nashville, Hemby has worked with modern greats like Brothers Osborne and Maren Morris, the latter of which she just got off of touring with. Her poetic songwriting and casual onstage presence kept her in a balancing act of potential stardom and future cult classic.
Canadian folk band Wild Rivers got the party started early on. The folk-rockers wasted no time getting into gear and hyping up the crowd. Their two co-vocalists brought a lighthearted dynamic and kept festival goers on their tows between the two of them.
Internet sensation Daniel Nunnelee kicked off the Iris Stage. Nunnelee knew how to get people off their feet. Nunnelee's energy might be the only performance to match Briston Maroney's, as his wild movements and command of the stage was on full display.
Madeline Edwards has roots in both California and Texas, leading to a stand out performance of modern country unlike anything else you'd find. Madeline's amalgamation of country and soul, specifically of the 90s variety, was truly special.
It is safe to say day one of Moon River Music Festival is going to be hard to top. Tomorrow features headliners Leon Bridges and Charley Crockett, who are sure to inspire the crowd.
Want to keep up with the events of day two? Check out WEGL's recap below: