Country music was alive and well in Austin, Texas on Saturday (May 7) as the 2022 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One took over the new state-of-the-art Moody Center with a must-see concert that featured performances by Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, Maren Morris, Dustin Lynch, Jimmie Allen, Scotty McCreery, Cody Johnson and surprise guest Dierks Bentley.
To celebrate the hottest in the genre, iHeartMedia kicked off the day with The Daytime Village at iHeartCountry Festival. Extreme temperatures didn’t keep the fans from coming in droves, as they crowded around the Moody Center grounds to see stars like Jimmie Allen, Lainey Wilson, Ryan Hurd, Ingrid Andress, Caroline Jones and Conner Smith set the precedent for what was to come from the others later in the evening.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal this was,” Conner Smith told Celeb Secrets Country reporter Juliet Schroder backstage after his performance. “We’ve played those festivals — those 2:00 slots where you’re in front of ten people — and that’s what I kind of expected today. We got out there and it was packed, so that was really cool.”
Thomas Rhett kicked off the night time show with an acoustic set to sing songs from his new album Where We Started as well as some of his most iconic hits. Joined by just a single guitarist, Rhett began his stripped-down set with the catchy “What’s Your Country Song” and “Slow Down Summer” before performing songs like “Sixteen,” “Die A Happy Man,” “Half Of Me” and “Look What God Gave Her.”
It was Jimmie Allen’s first time performing at the iHeartCountry Festival and he did not disappoint. The Delaware native started his set with an energetic version of his hit “Make Me Want To” while dancing around stage before grabbing his guitar for an acoustic performance of “Down Home,” a song he wrote for his late father. He also performed “Best Shot,” and closed his set with “Freedom Was A Highway,” his feel-good anthem with Brad Paisley.
“It’s been so fun [performing here],” Jimmie said with a smile backstage between his Daytime Village and inside performances. “The Daytime Village was very hot but super fun. The fans that go out there and hang out in the heat… they’re the ride or dies so we try and give them a good show. We enjoyed it, so hopefully they did [as well].”
Texas natives Maren Morris and Cody Johnson had an incredible homecoming at the iHeartCountry Festival on Saturday. Maren kicked off her high-energy set with “Circles Around This Town” before trading in her guitar for a tambourine to perform “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” the duet she penned with husband Ryan Hurd. She then took the crowd to church with a performance of “My Church” before singing one of her biggest hits, “The Bones.”
“It’s so good to be back [in Texas],” Maren told Celeb Secrets Country backstage moments before her performance. “There’s something for everyone [tonight]. We’re playing a few of the songs off the new album before going right into the fan favorites.”
When it was Cody’s turn to take the stage, the crowd cheered with excitement while belting out lyrics to his heartfelt country ballad “Dear Rodeo.” Saving the best for last, Johnson ended his set with the ultimate sing-a-long, as he performed his viral, coming-of-age single “‘Til You Can’t.”
Dustin Lynch got fans into “Party Mode” the minute his memorable entrance to the iconic Beastie Boys tune “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” commenced. Handing out beer helmets and sombreros to nearby audience members who later participated in an on-stage game of beer pong, Lynch then continued the good time with out-of-this-world performances of his country anthems “Small Town Boy,” “Where It’s At” and “Tequila On A Boat.”
But the best part of the evening was the “We’re All Country” Guitar Pull powered by RAM Trucks! Kicking things off with female powerhouses Maren Morris and Daytime Village performer Lainey Wilson, Maren sang classics like “Rich” and “The Middle,” while Lainey sang her chart-topping “Never Say Never” followed by her No. 1 hit “Things A Man ‘Oughta Know.”
“I am so pumped for [this Guitar Pull],” Lainey Wilson told Celeb Secrets Country backstage before the Guitar Pull. “I’ve actually never gotten to know her, but I’m a big fan of hers. I think that she’s just an incredible writer, singer, artist — all of it. It’s going to be fun to just sit next to her and watch and learn.”
After the girls showed off their killer vocals, Lainey turned to introduce the third (and surprise guest) of the guitar pull — Dierks Bentley. The Louisiana native helped him perform “Burning Man,” before he continued with his summer anthem “Beers On Me” and iconic “I Hold On.”
Donning denim and rhinestones – an ode to her upcoming new album that drops Friday, June 10th – Carrie Underwood shut down the Moody Center with a show-stopping performance of her greatest hits like “Church Bells,” “Good Girl,” “Ghost Story,” “Last Name” and “Before He Cheats;” but not before she took us to church with a powerful mashup of “Jesus Take The Wheel” and “How Great Thou Art.”
To close out the night, Zac Brown Band made sure to pull out all of their biggest hits for the 2022 iHeartCountry Festival. The band kicked off with “Homegrown” and “Out in the Middle” before performing a mashup of “Colder Weather” and the Eagles’ “Take It To The Limit.” Then, the group performed a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” and finished the entire show with fan favorite, “Chicken Fried.”
Celeb Secrets Country headed to the Lone Star State to catch up with the performers and special guests on the red carpet before they made their way onstage! Watch our interviews with Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Jimmie Allen, Dustin Lynch, Lainey Wilson, Scotty McCreery and more below and don’t forget to leave a reaction at the bottom of this post if you like it.