10 Epic Moments From the 2017 Pilgrimage Festival
The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival celebrated its third year -- and its most epic year yet -- in 2017. With Justin Timberlake acting as co-producer, the relatively new event, which takes place in Franklin, Tenn., made a major mark on the festival scene by securing big-name acts such as Eddie Vedder, the Avett Brothers and Ryan Adams, not to mention Timberlake himself.
Over two days (Sept. 23-24) and under a scorching sun (95 degrees and humid!), the 2017 Pilgrimage Festival boasted more 50 acts on five stages, bringing performers from practically every genre into the mix. Killer sets from well-known artists such as Mavis Staples, Walk the Moon, Gary Clark Jr. and Fitz and the Tantrums were buffeted by mighty performances from Angaleena Presley, Joseph, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Jillian Jacqueline, among others, who showed that the smaller names sometimes put on the best shows.
Read on to re-live some of the most epic moments from Pilgrimage Fest 2017.
Chris Stapleton Joined Justin Timberlake Onstage, and We All Lost Our Minds
With Timberlake on the bill, everyone expected an amazing show, but when Morgane and Chris Stapleton stepped onstage, the night truly became unforgettable. Not only did Stapleton join Timberlake for a reprisal of their famous "Tennessee Whiskey" performance at the 2015 CMA Awards, but Timberlake also insisted that Stapleton sing "Fire Away," noting that it was a song he wished he wrote himself. Additionally, they performed "Sometimes I Cry" together.
The Avett Brothers Led One Awesome Sing-a-long
From the moment the Avett Brothers started their headlining set on Saturday evening, it was clear that the crowd was there just for them. While playing many of their biggest hits -- "Kick Drum Heart," "Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise," "Ain't No Man" -- each song turned into one giant sing-a-long ... and the band didn't seem to mind one bit. In fact, when the crowd got so loud that they threatened to drown out Scott Avett on "I and Love and You," the singer simply stepped away from the mic and listened to his fans sing the song back to him in awe.
The Girls Most Certainly Ruled ...
While the men held most of the headlining spots at the 2017 Pilgrimage Festival, female acts definitely held their own. From the Sisterhood's rowdy set at the ASCAP-sponsored stage to Muddy Magnolias' high-octane afternoon performance, the women brought their game and left festival-goers wanting more.
With songs such as "God Bless This Mess" (which she said she wasn't sure would even fit on her new record!) and "Bleachers," Jillian Jacqueline showed everyone why she's one of Americana's fastest rising acts, and real-life sisters Joseph brought stunning harmonies, powerful lyricism and an amazing cover of Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" to their Sunday performance.
... But the Guys Held Their Own, Too
Classic American rock acts had a big year at the 2017 Pilgrimage Festival, with groups such as the Revivalists and the Texas Gentlemen making themselves festival favorites with gritty, interactive and downright fun performances.
The Texas Gentlemen actually played two sets during the festival, one of which was for their youngest fans at the Lil’ Pilgrims Stage; proving their love for fans of all ages, the Gentlemen brought a 6-year-old up to play the piano for his own rendition of the Beatles classic "Birthday." And for their set, David Shaw and the Revivalists got everyone dancing (even in that heat!) with their unique brand of funky American rock.
Shovels & Rope Proved That They Are Made for Festivals
The fact that Shovels and Rope can create such an amazing, high-energy show with only two people onstage is unbelievable. The fact that Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent could do it all in denim on a 95-degree day in Tennessee is truly astounding (did we mention that Trent was actually wearing a long-sleeve denim jumpsuit?)! And astound us they did with their hour-long set; bombastic drums and powerful guitars made for a rowdy show that fans couldn't help but dance to.
Aaron Lee Tasjan Kept It Classy
New listeners of Aaron Lee Tasjan may have been just as in awe of his stage attire as his performance. Of course, the Americana up-and-comer rocked an audacious pair of shoes (as he's known to do) ... but they still couldn't overshadow the rocking show he put on during his Saturday evening set. Known for songs such as "Till the Town Goes Dark," Tasjan brought his lyrical depth, energy-filled performance style and general wow factor to Pilgrimage Fest 2017.
Amanda Shires Got Feisty ...
... and we loved it! In between killer performances of some of her most well-loved songs, Amanda Shires had a sarcastically witty way of interacting with her audience -- just playful enough to make us respect her even more. When someone shouted out during the introduction to "Bulletproof," she kindly reminded them, "This isn't 'holler at me' time," and when a fan yelled out at the beginning of a song to tell Shires it was her birthday, she threw out the quip, "Well, everyone has birthdays" before wishing the interrupting fan a happy birthday and continuing on with the song. Pair that banter with a truly phenomenal set (including backing instrumentation from her husband Jason Isbell), and Shires was one of the most entertaining acts at Pilgrimage.
Angeleena Presley Didn't Take Any of Our Crap
When introducing "Bless My Heart," off her latest album, Wrangled, Angaleena Presley noted, "This is a song for all you Southern girls out in the audience who are a little bit mean." Then, she made it clear, via the song's lyrics, that she doesn't take anyone's BS. From the Pistol Annies member and outlaw country star in her own right, the sentiment couldn't have been more well-received. Presley's set was completely packed and full of great stories and even better songs.
Langhorne Slim Showed His Fans the Love
Throughout his set, Langhorne Slim made it clear that he was all about the fans. He stopped between each song to share stories about his life and spent almost as much time offstage, performing right in the middle of the crowd, as he did on it.
Nikki Lane Kept the Rain Away
Nikki Lane seemed genuinely surprised when she played "Send the Sun," noting, "It usually rains when I play this song, but not today!" In the stifling and humid heat, festivalgoers may have actually been happy for a little thunderstorm. but no matter -- Lane made it all worth it. Sharing the stage equally with her band, Lane brought her take on outlaw country to Pilgrimage with such power and grit that no one minded the sun.