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22 Best Things We Saw at FarmBorough 2015

From Dierks Bentley’s wild victory lap to a half dozen Tom Petty covers, the memorable moments from New York City’s wild (and very wet) country party

Lindsay Ell and Dierks Bentley

Lindsay Ell and Dierks Bentley were two of the highlights of the inaugural FarmBorough Festival in New York.

Chona Kasinger

The big city was all about the country as the first annual FarmBorough Festival took over New York's Randall's Island for three days of nonstop country music on two stages. The theme weaved throughout every set — other than braving the rain — seemed to be the element of surprise, as acts threw in unexpected cover songs and unpredictable antics. Friday headliner Dierks Bentley's  set included a beer-chugging contest with a fan and his unique take on a Taylor Swift song. And though he himself was nowhere to be seen, Tom Petty provided much of the evenings' soundtracks. Here are our most memorable moments from the inaugural FarmBorough fest.

Courtney Cole

Chona Kasinger

Best Beyoncé: Courtney Cole

Early on Friday, sassy singer-songwriter Courtney Cole made up for a slow-to-arrive crowd at the Next From Nashville Stage by delivering a high-energy set of radio-friendly material, including the SiriusXM favorite "Drunk." But the most exciting moment of her set came when Cole decided to weave a cover of Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" into her upcoming single "Shady." Cole, who will be opening for Miranda Lambert on her fall tour, delivered an inspired take of the R&B Number One, which didn’t need all that much altering to be transformed into a country tune. Cole's effortless, twangy take on the "yea-yea-yea-yea" outro brought to mind Beyoncé's 2007 performance with Sugarland — proving that even a country upstart can be a Queen Bee.

Wade Bowen

Chona Kasinger

Best Weatherman: Wade Bowen

At one point during Red Dirt singer-songwriter Wade Bowen's performance, a fan climbed onto his friend's shoulders and turned to rally a crowd soggy from a rainstorm by waving his arms and vigorously chugging beer. Bowen declared the fan his hero. "You're my boy, Blue," he said, doing his best Will Ferrell from Old School. "It's people like you — it doesn't matter what the weather is, the sun is always shining." It also made for one heck of a smooth transition as Bowen launched into his inspiring "Sun Shines on a Dreamer." And that wasn't Bowen's only attempt to dispel the clouds: he and the band also trotted out Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" and his own "West Texas Rain," making for the most weather-appropriate set of the weekend.

Chris Stapleton

Rahav Segev/WireImage

Best Whiskey Jam: Chris Stapleton

The select few who ventured to the Next From Nashville Stage on Friday afternoon to hear Chris Stapleton were treated to perhaps the finest old-fashioned country show of the weekend. Backed by a four-piece band that included his wife Morgane Stapleton on vocals and legendary pedal-steel guitarist Robby Turner, Stapleton led the small but devoted crowd through some of the more fast-paced rockers from his universally-acclaimed debut Traveller. Morgane delivered an unexpected highlight with her sensual, slow-burning reinvention of  "You Are My Sunshine," which featured some excellent bluesy fills from her husband on guitar. But the set's finest moment came early, with Stapleton's cover of the David Allan Coe/George Jones classic "Tennessee Whiskey,"  just one of several songs in Stapleton's set that paid tribute to country music's hard liquor of choice.

Cassadee Pope

Chona Kasinger

Best High Notes: Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope not only hit every note during her Sunday afternoon set, she hit every note while dancing in heels, greeting fans and taking photos from the stage. (Brad Paisley and Justin Moore needed a few minutes of instrumentals to take their "manly selfie break" the night before.) The belting began with opener "Wish I Could Break Your Heart" and continued well past "Everybody Sings," a blithe party song that would have been hands-in-the-air even without much vocal embellishment. Pope really displayed her range with the ubiquitous Petty jam "I Won't Back Down," letting it known that this past winner of The Voice is far from just a reality-show idol. 

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