Giddy-up for Boots & Hearts 2014!
Cowboys, pickup trucks, and dirt roads – what else would you expect from a country music festival? Boots & Hearts returned to Bowmanville, Canada for a third time in a row as the country’s most hyped and prominent music festival promoting country music. That same weekend, VELD Music Festival was grappling onto music lovers in the EDM scene about a hundred kilometers away in Toronto. But Boots & Hearts proved that Canada was ready to prove its love for country music, having sold out all their day and weekend passes in mere minutes!
This year, the festival saw sponsors by Republic Live, Somersby, Palm Bay, and Coors, among others. Vendors included Rockstar Energy Drinks, Toronto’s own Hogtown Smoke BBQ, and even WorldVision, who operated a water bottle refill station. Among other familiar names were Chevrolet and Harley Davidson. What’s a country music festival without Harleys?
We had the opportunity to catch Boots & Hearts on its last day at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. We knew we were getting close once we saw the RVs and branded signs leading us from the highways to the outdoors event space.
Immediately entering the venue, we were taken aback by the amount of people onsite. The event seemed to be pretty organized, with the main stage right next to the main entrance, food vendors just a few steps away, and washrooms as well.
We ran up and down small hills to catch our first act – newcomers Dan + Shay. They are undeniably the hottest new country music heartthrob duo. The hottest thing about them is definitely their talent – Shay’s vocals (which sounded even better than the album recordings) coupled with Dan’s delightful guitar strumming was surely a match made in country heaven.
Being their first time in Canada ever, the crowd still loved them and gave them a very warm reception. Dan + Shay reciprocated the love and were very charismatic during the whole set while hyping the crowd (and while girls swooned)! A little rain did not stop them from flawlessly promoting their debut album Where It All Began and covering a few songs (like Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are”).
Having some time to kill, we explored the venue a little more and discovered carnival game stands, the multiple merch tents, and a lot of hay and dirt under our shoes.
On the main stage was Hunter Hayes, a talented four time Grammy-nominated 22-year old boy from Louisiana who came out with a bang, playing 6 of his most upbeat songs in a row. The crowd went wild! Comments about his age and youthfulness were rampant in the crowd. Hunter Hayes proves that age is just a number when he floors the crowd with his amazing improvisation and ad-libbing techniques with both his vocals and guitar playing. He gives a shoutout to all his touring band members and covers One Republic’s “Counting Stars”. He didn’t play our favourite song “You Think You Know Somebody” but took the time to raise awareness for bullying and discrimination before he played his new album (Storyline)’s lead single “Invisible”.
As the sun started to set, we had some time to recover at the media tent and enjoy some fish and chips before the headlining act for Sunday, Blake Shelton!
At 9:15 pm sharp, Blake Shelton opened his set with so much enthusiasm and bright lights. It was such an endearing moment, to be just one individual in a huge audience in the middle of an open field, having everybody singing along and dancing. By this time, the sun had already set so it really felt like it was just you, the music, and other true country music lovers at that point.
Even if you’re not a country music fan, the atmosphere and love in the air was apparent. Everybody was just there to have fun. These artists are very underrated as mainstream music is becoming more and more EDM-centric, but surely they haven’t got a thing to worry about because there are so many people who still believe in the power of country music. Until next time, see ya’ll again soon! Yeehaw!