Coastal Country Jam 2023: Day One (& you’ll never guess who surprised us at the end…)

In the heart of Long Beach, California, it was a jam-packed night filled with thousands of country fans patiently waiting at the main stage for some of country’s biggest stars on Day One of Coastal Country Jam’s 5th Annual festival event.

As I made my way through security, I was surrounded by a sea of cowboy hats, pushing and shoving their way into the venue to get ready to rush the main stage and see their favorite acts hit the stage. While inside the festival grounds, all you could see were a ton of tents filled with your favorite alcohol beverages, tasty food trucks, merch setups, and a giant colorful ferris wheel — free of charge for anyone to ride. 

While the crowds started to fill in and everyone made their way to their seats, it was time for the show to begin.

First up was a Canadian country singer, songwriter, and actor, MacKenzie Porter. Not only has MacKenzie released a self-titled album of late, but she has also achieved four Canada Country number ones in her career. During her set, she performed songs such as “These Days”, “Chasing Tornadoes”, “Pick Up”, and even surprised the crowd by singing a 90s song mashup that featured hit songs “No Scrubs” by TLC, “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, and “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow. While she had everyone singing along to the words and nodding to the music, she ended her set by singing a number one country hit that she is featured on with Dustin Lynch called, “Thinking ‘Bout You”.

Second in this star-studded line up is Georgia-based singer/songwriter, Kidd G. As he rushed the stage, rocking a Raiders football t-shirt and his hat backwards, some of the songs he sang were, “Daylight”, “Break Up Song”, “Summer in a Small Town”, and “Paper Hearts”. After singing a few songs, Kidd G took a moment to reflect on being 15-years-old, wanting to make music and getting to be where he is now in his career doing just that, which he said has been a huge blessing. Near the end of his set was a song called “Dirt Road”; Kidd G’s biggest song that took off and went viral back in 2020. 

While there was line-dancing happening off in the distance and fans enjoying the beautiful city views, third up to perform was Tyler Hubbard. Tyler is an American singer-songwriter from Georgia, once a part of a super successful country music group called Florida Georgia Line. Back in January 2023, Tyler released his first-ever solo debut album of his own name which has been climbing the charts ever since. As Tyler popped out from behind backstage, the crowd erupted in cheers and screams, showing their excitement for one of their favorite musicians. Songs like “Me for Me”, “Tough”, “35’s”, Florida Georgia Line song “Cruise”, “5 Foot 9”, “Meant to Be” featuring Bebe Rexha, a cover of Jason Aldean’s “You Make It Easy”, and “Back Then Right Now” — Tyler’s most recent single — was brought to the stage flawlessly. At one point during the set, Tyler handed out signed shirts to the crowd, which got everyone pushing to the front to try and catch one. Not long after that, the set ended with his groovy hit song, “Dancin’ in the Country”. 

As the DJ music started to fizzle out during set change, fans sprinted over to the stage to catch the next act — Dustin Lynch.

Dustin came out wearing his renowned cowboy hat and started the set with smash hits like “Where It’s At”, “Hell of a Night”, and “Small Town Boy”. Dustin took a breather and went backstage to return with a bottle of tequila and sombrero hats to hand out to the crowd, taking shots with them which led to him singing his song, “Tequila On A Boat”. After having a little fun with his biggest fans, Dustin Lynch wanted to take us back to his hometown and sing “Momma’s House”. Next, Dustin surprised everyone by bringing back out Mackenzie Porter to sing “Thinking ‘Bout You” before he started singing more chart-topping songs like, “Cowboys and Angels” and “Good Girl”. At this point, Dustin once again went backstage to bring out some beers to hand out to the audience, singing Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy”. Towards the end of the set, Dustin announced that he has his sixth studio album coming out soon on September 29th called Killed The Cowboy (<< stream here!!). 

As the crowd stood in place with their hand over their heart, the National Anthem was performed with everyone singing along. Right after that concluded, everyone started to cheer and had huge smiles on their faces knowing who was coming out next. Hugely successful country duo, Brooks & Dunn got everyone immediately up and dancing. Some songs that were sung were hit singles that produced four consecutive number ones in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks and from their hit album Brand New Man, such as “My Next Broken Heart”, “New Moon”, the title track, and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.

As the night sky arrived, fans started to gather closer together for the last act.

All you saw were tons of drones rising up into the sky to light up the night and carry out a beautiful performance with different country designs like no other. After that ended, it was time for country music’s massive superstar and main headliner of the night, Blake Shelton. As Blake walked out with guitar in hand, everyone gave out the biggest roar and raised their drinks in the air to welcome him to the stage. Hit songs like “Come Back As a Country Boy”, “All About Tonight”, “Neon Light”, “Sangria”, and “Mine Would Be You” kicked off the set. As the night went on and thousands of fans sang along to all the words, Blake started to strum his guitar and started to play a familiar tune that got the people screaming. It was No Doubt’s chart-topping song “Don’t Speak” and — just a few moments later — Gwen Stefani herself walking out onto the stage, shocking the fans. They had the biggest grins on their faces and were jumping up and down to the music. Once that hugely popular song ended, Gwen stayed on the stage and began to perform other big hits like “Nobody But You” featuring Blake Shelton and “Happy Everywhere”. Towards the end of the night, the biggest party of the year started to end with other bestselling songs like “No Body”, “Honey Bee”, “Boys ‘Round Here”, “God’s Country”, and “God Gave Me You”. Cheers to a Day One unlike any other!

Photography by Mikayla Ragovin

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