Watershed country-music festival at Gorge packed and partying
A review of the second day of the inaugural Watershed country-music festival at the Gorge, in George, Grant County, with Miranda Lambert, Tracy Lawrence and other artists.
Seattle Times music critic
Festival Review |
"This is what I pictured when I grew up wanting to be a country star," said Miranda Lambert on Saturday night at the Gorge's packed Watershed festival. "Just people rocking out, like a bar."
Lambert pretty much nailed it. The inaugural edition of the three-day festival was a party — one that started in the campground with ample pours of Bud Lite and tequila shots (or, as clever singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett put it that afternoon, "diet margaritas") and ended with a lot of bumping and grinding and singing along.
The young, animated crowd, which tilted female, spent a lot of time slathering on sunscreen or seeking shade, as the thermometer rose to 100. There was a lot of exposed, tattooed flesh, with one favored look being the bikini with cowboy boots.
Though the music started just after 1 p.m. Saturday, the festival grounds were practically deserted till 5 p.m., when the first mainstage headliner, Uncle Kracker, riled up the crowd with "Drift Away" ("I wanna get lost in your rock 'n' roll"). The smaller Festival stage showcasing regional acts rarely drew more than 30 people. Fans clearly were there to hear the stars.
Though the slant was modern, rocked-up country, one of the high points was an old-school set by Tracy Lawrence, the craggy-voiced crooner whose impassive, cowboy-hat-and-jeans demeanor belied the tender romance of songs such as "How A Cowgirl Says Goodbye" and "Sawdust on Her Halo."
When Lawrence pulled out his hit, "Sticks and Stones," just after the sun finally dropped behind the ridge, the rolling beat was a perfect match for the breathtaking setting.
Inspirational diva Sara Evans, trim and leggy in fringed shorts and mile-high platform heels, offered a pleasantly relaxed, intimate set. She lifted the crowd with "A Little Bit Stronger," though after awhile it started to feel like every song had to climb a very tall mountain.
Lambert, in a sequined miniskirt with a giant buckle and spike-heeled black boots, gave an arena-rock-style show, strutting and prowling through smoke and lights. Her generous set included the venomous "Baggage Claim," the charming "Famous in a Small Town," the fist-pumping "Powder and Lead" and the fiery No. 1 single, "White Liar."
Lambert is an undeniable, if shrill, musical force, but her set felt like a tiresome commercial for her brand. OK, you like to hunt and fish and you're feisty. We get it.
Most fans missed one of the best afternoon acts, Scottish soul singer Johnny Reid, who sang with the raspy conviction of a new Van Morrison. Reid is going to be a star.
Vaunted extras at Watershed — free hot-air balloon rides and a water park — didn't amount to much (the balloons barely left the ground), but the music rocked. Fans were already talking about next year. Blake Shelton was to close Sunday night.
Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or email@example.com