Only in a festival setting would a band like this play prior to Chris Stapleton. Look up “man” in an encyclopedia, and Stapleton’s photo had best be featured. He’s got a beard that could hold a hornets’ nest and long tresses leaking out of his cowboy hat. If they were to recast the southern drug drama Rush, Stapleton would play Gregg Allman’s role. Sprinkling in a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” Stapleton’s set drew heavily from his sensational album Traveller, his rawhide voice pairing so exceptionally with his wife’s on “Stars Come Out” that you swiftly realize exactly why they took the plunge.
As the Weeknd warbled in a gigantic football stadium a short walk away, Kacey Musgraves took the stage, her band outfitted in pink cowboy suits with blinking lights. If lightning still threatened, they’d have been in trouble. But the jet-black sky promised no such calamity, and a tipsy, tallboy-fueled crowd swayed appreciatively to such hits as “Follow Your Arrow,” “Merry Go Round” and “Biscuits” — as well as a clever cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs.” For neo-traditionalists, the Stapleton-Musgraves coupling was a way back to go forward — antlers strapped to the roof of a rusty old Ford, with cactus and tumbleweeds in the rearview as Hank’s voice finally comes in clear on the left side of a manual dial.