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12 Best Things We Saw at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Fest

Music City takes over Sin City for the first-ever country festival on the strip

Jason Aldean and Clare Bowen at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada

Jason Aldean and Clare Bowen at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Fest in Las Vegas on October 4th and 5th, 2014.

Ethan Miller/Getty

Welcome to Nash-Vegas! The inaugural Route 91 Harvest Festival took over Las Vegas this past weekend, bringing a lineup of country music heavyweights (Miranda! Blake! Jason!), middleweights and up-and-comers to MGM Resort's Village on the south end of the Vegas strip, a former parking lot turned open-air concert venue that catered to 30,000 strong. The three-day festival — the first of its kind in Vegas — saw a lot of cover songs, tanned skin (after all, it is the desert), plaid shirts and more beer sales than you could shake a stick at. Here are a dozen of the best things we saw from the Sin City celebration.

Dan + Shay

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 03: Recording artists Shay Mooney (L) and Dan Smyers of Dan + Shay perform during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival at the MGM Resorts Village on October 3, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty

Best Reason to Have Arrived Early: Dan + Shay

Dan + Shay were the second act on the main stage, playing while the sun was still overhead and most people were at their 9-to-5s. The rising duo rushed onto the stage to Guns N’ Roses' "Paradise City" and continued the not-quite-country them by diving into Def Leppard's ubiquitous "Pour Some Sugar on Me." "I told you we came to party," Shay Mooney boasted. 

Randy Houser

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 03: Recording artist Randy Houser (L) performs with guitarist Justin Butler during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival at the MGM Resorts Village on October 3, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty

Best Rocking Performance: Randy Houser

Just before taking the stage, Houser told Rolling Stone Country, "I don't know what I'm going to get into up there." What he gave was perhaps the most rock & roll-worthy set of the show, with the guitar riffs capable of injuring eardrums. At one point, he was ripping off a faulty guitar string during a song, and the next he was sipping a Moscow Mule from a copper mug onstage. He told the rambunctious crowd, "We got longer than usual, so we're gonna play whatever the hell we want," before tearing through Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See." At one point Houser was working so hard, his microphone pack fell out of his back pocket. Rock on.

claire bowen

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Actress/singer Clare Bowen performs during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival at the MGM Resorts Village on October 4, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty

Best New Country Darling: Clare Bowen

The pint-sized Australian beauty won over the hearts of the crowd with her sweet voice and mixture of cover songs (Etta James, the Killers, Johnny Cash) and her own music. Many of the crowd simply knew her from her work on ABC's Nashville, but it's safe to say she wowed the uninitiated with her charming personality and genuine appreciation for those who watched her 45-minute performance early in the day. And Nashville fans were especially rewarded: Bowen brought out costar Charles Esten for a surprise duet on the song "This Town."

Jason Aldean

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 05: Recording artist Jason Aldean performs during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival at the MGM Resorts Village on October 5, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty

Best Entrance: Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean's latest single is titled "Burnin' It Down," and he lived up to those words with his entrance alone. Starting off a 90-minute set with "Hick Town," the singer's arrival featured fireworks exploding overhead and pyrotechnics on both sides of the stage — a taste of what's to come on his upcoming tour, he told Rolling Stone Country before taking the stage. During his performance, he rattled off a couple new songs but stuck mainly to the favorites. No one complained. The final artist to take the stage at the festival, Aldean started and ended emphatically. At the show's culmination? Yep, more pyro. 

las vegas

Ming Che Lo/Getty

Best Backdrop: The Las Vegas Strip

It's not everyday that an artist gets to perform while surrounded by the neon lights of Vegas, but there were some of Nashville's finest, belting out their hits with the backdrop of the Luxor pyramid and glimmering Mandalay Bay over their shoulders. "I've been really excited to play this place," Dustin Lynch said to the crowd. "Isn't this a beautiful backdrop?" Not even Elvis at the International had this kind of luxury.