Best Birthday Celebration: Sturgill Simpson
"My midlife crisis is fucking dope," Sturgill Simpson bellowed from the massive What Stage on Friday evening – which just happened to be the guitarist and songwriter's 40th birthday. He celebrated in inimitable fashion, sporting a Rolling Stones–inspired "Who the fuck is asking?" shirt while tearing through a just-after-sundown set that eschewed bells and whistles and instead put its full attention on the undeniable chemistry between the Americana outlaw and his three bandmates. Songs expanded and contracted to fit Simpson's whims, with his soul-food flip of When in Rome's late-Eighties New Romantic smash "The Promise" providing heat and a blown-out version of the chugging "Brace for Impact (Live a Little)" giving him the opportunity to show off his still-formidable ability to shred – demographics be damned. M.J.