Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Jason Aldean Headline 2019 Stagecoach Festival

This April, RVs will flock into Indio, California in herds, and take over the Empire Polo Club, filling the speakers with enough collective twang to considerably increase the threat of yet another earthquake. The Stagecoach Festival, Coachella’s more rustic sister event, is coming up on its twelfth year, and the lineup has just been announced.

While first and foremost a country music festival, Stagecoach has always taken some liberties in extending the “country” banner to practically all forms of American rustic roots music. Everything from Southern rock to bluegrass, folk and Americana, is fair game. Still, it’s crucial to have some headliners that embody “country” in the strictest sense — and who better than the singer of “What Makes You Country?” Luke Bryan to headline Friday? Among the other top spots are country radio mainstay Cole Swindell, and Kane Brown, widely acclaimed for updating the genre with a fresh aesthetic. The opening night will also feature sets from Scotty McCreery, Russell Dickerson, Devin Dawson, Tyler Rich, Brandon Lay, Jon Langston, Bret Michaels, Joe Diffie, Cody Johnson, and more. And yes, that’s Bret Michaels of Poison. Hair metal, your time is back.

Presumably, festival attendees will know well sure, by Saturday, what makes them country, and with the template clearly established, the sound can safely venture into tangential avenues, with the more crossover stylings of headliner Sam Hunt. Sharing the bill is Luke Combs, whose debut full album boasts enough number one singles to guarantee a set full of slurred singalongs. While this year is a rare case without any female headliners, California’s own Cam has made one of Saturday’s top spots, adding a welcome poppier counterpart to some of the more rough-hewn acts. Rounding off the acts brilliantly is none other than Lynyrd Skynyrd, so be advised to time your beverage purchases and bathroom breaks wisely, lest you find yourself missing the very peak of “Freebird.” Along with this will be performances from the likes of LANCO, Michael Ray, Jessie James Decker, Travis Denning, Smithfield, Rachel Wammack, Sammy Kershaw, and Rita Wilson.

The closing night will be led by no other than last year’s ACM Awards Entertainment of the Year, Jason Aldean. If you haven’t yet had a chance to “Drown the Whiskey,” you’ll have a surefire excuse. Nashville’s Old Dominion will take the stage, offering a more hybrid, contemporary spin on the heartland sound. Lauren Alaina, once a runner-up on American Idol, will have a moment of ironic triumph, as hardly anything qualifies an “American Idol” than a peak spot at a country music festival. While vape refills are amongst the prohibited items at Stagecoach, vapes themselves are allowed, perhaps in a grand design to enable fans, after three days of vaping, to sing along with a new conviction to another star of Sunday’s lineup: legendary raspy Welshman Tom Jones. Jordan Davis, Danielle Bradbery, Mitchell Tenpenny, Jimmie Allen, Abby Anderson, Mark Chesnutt, Terri Clark, and more will fill out the closing night. At that point, we can conservatively estimate that you’ll have had your ample fill of country music. Accordingly, the After Party has just been announced to feature Diplo.

Any festival can give you arepas and funnel cakes. And steadily more festivals will insult you with miniature “artisan” fare, labeled with prices that vary inversely with their size. Taking things back with a bang, Stagecoach 2019 invites celebrity restaurateur Guy Fieri, who will have an act all of his own, “Guy Fieri’s Stagecoach Smokehouse.” There will be barbeque in full Fieri extravagance, with live demos, and free samples on a first come basis. Of course, there will be plenty to drink throughout the fest as well, with more specific details to be announced on the official website. As if the festival weren’t already perfectly enough curated, there’s a feature fitting the country theme for fashion as well as Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse does for food. Singer and bonafide “High Class Hillbilly” Nikki Lane will be presenting her “Stage Stop Marketplace” for the second year, offering a selection of wardrobe designed to reflect country pride in ways more broadly stylish and adventurous than a cowboy hat and a pair of Levis.

A favorite element of the Stagecoach experience is the grand ferris wheel — perhaps that’s the place to be during “Freebird.” And of course, there’s the RV camping, which takes on wholly new proportions in Stagecoach than your standard musical festival. People typically watch live broadcasts of festivals, thinking they’re bringing the event to their homes. At Stagecoach, you bring your home to the event. If not the full RV camping experience, the lineup and various attractions are enough to warrant a visit for any fervent country fan, as there are few festivals that celebrate this piece of American culture so fully and festively.

The 2019 Stagecoach Festival will take place April 26-28 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA. Tickets are available here.