CMC Rocks QLD, the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere country and roots music festival, recently delivered its largest-ever event. Willowbank played host to 24,000 music lovers daily, between Thursday 14 and Sunday 17 March, featuring stellar performances from 20 international and 8 local artists across a huge four-days.
The most anticipated event on the country music calendar, CMC Rocks has become synonymous with delivering the world’s hottest local and international artists to Australian audiences; this year’s event completely selling out within 90 minutes, for the third consecutive year, with fans raring to experience their favourite artists live in action.
Increased capacity saw an additional 4,000 passionate music fans attend in 2019, up from a daily attendance of 20,000 in 2018. Earlier entry and an extended festival program exclusively for campers ensured that festivities kicked off in fine fashion on Thursday afternoon, with festival first-timers Devin Dawson (USA) and Lindsay Ell (CAN), along with Rocks alumni The Sisterhood Band (USA), wowing audiences at the Jack Daniel’s White Rabbit Saloon. The return of festival favourite the Regatta Boatshed Restaurant, along with brand new Pimm’s Pamper Bar, BBQ Mafia, Carlton Dry House and more, ensured festivalgoers had plenty of good eating and drinking to accompany the top-notch tunes.
Showcasing a superb roster of the very best the genre has to offer, Friday’s official festival opening saw locals Aleyce Simmonds and Imogen Clark impress, before America’s Brandy Clark delivered her stunning main stage set.
Friday afternoon’s storm, which saw the Rebel and Stampede Stages close for around 90 minutes to ensure patron and staff safety, didn’t dampen spirits, festivalgoers turning out in force to catch the evening’s line-up, culminating in a hugely anticipated headlining set from Luke Combs (USA). Returning to Rocks for the second consecutive year, Combs is a global powerhouse, with 2.2 billion audio streams, latest album This One’s For You certified gold in Australia and double platinum in the USA, and sell-out Sydney and Melbourne sideshows this month.
Returning artist Cam (USA) dazzled during her Saturday night main stage set, previewing brand new music, along with fan favourites like ‘Diane’ and ‘Burning House’. She delighted fans with a surprise appearance during Thomas Rhett’s Saturday set, joining the headliner for a dynamic rendition of ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’, originally recorded with Little Big Town. From the opening notes of his Saturday headline performance, Rhett (USA) owned CMC Rocks. His sizzling set kicked off with ‘Leave Right Now’, taking in favourites from his killer catalogue including ‘T-Shirt’ and ‘Die A Happy Man’, stopping to share an audience member’s beer to perform a shooey to crowd applause on his Rocks debut.
Local hit-makers and Rocks alumni, Kasey Chambers and Troy Cassar-Daley, blitzed the stage with multiple appearances over the course of the weekend, playing to jam-packed adoring crowds. A cameo appearance came from Troy and his wife Laurel, who joined Kasey during her Sunday main-stage set for a stunning rendition of ‘The Captain’. Up-and-comer Brad Cox (AUS) cemented his star quality with a raucous Camper’s Bar set, audiences singing back every word.
Each year, the Songwriter Shows prove a firm highlight, Sunday’s set delivering the goods to eager punters, with Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, Troy Cassar-Daley and prolific Nashville songwriter Kylie Sackley taking the stage to introduce and perform their songs in an intimate acoustic setting.
Newcomer, and festival standout, Morgan Wallen (USA) slayed, showing audiences exactly why he’s one of the hottest rising stars of country music, and leaving a new legion of fans in his wake. On her debut Australian visit, Ashley McBryde (USA) delivered two killer sets, while multi Grammy-winner Jim Lauderdale (USA) brought his signature rhinestone-encrusted soul, with a powerhouse horn section and a surprise duet with local legend Felicity Urqhuart.
Closing out the festival on Sunday evening, and on their second Rocks visit, Florida Georgia Line (USA) exploded on stage. The global superstars delivered a hit-laden set spanning their entire catalogue from ‘Cruise’ through ‘This Is How We Roll’ and ‘H.O.L.Y’ to worldwide smash ‘Meant To Be’. Complete with an incredible fireworks display to close festival, the duo had festivalgoers begging for more, and revved up for 2020’s instalment.
“There’s no words to express the pride we feel at the end of a weekend like this”, said Festival Director, Jeremy Dylan. “ A year’s hard work and dedication from thousands of staff and crew, culminating in an incredible four days.
“Seeing Luke Combs make his triumphant return as a heavyweight headliner, pin drop silence as Brandy Clark kept everyone wrapped round her finger at the Songwriters Shows; countless indelible moments that the fans, performers and us promoters will never forget.
“Each year, we make what just twelve years ago was a dream into a reality, and we intend to keep doing so for many years to come.”
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