For one weekend and one weekend only, Girl at the Rock Shows became Girl at the Country Shows. Although I wanted to check Twin Cities Summer Jam out of desperation for a festival, I ended up having a much better time than I would have ever expected. Don’t expect me to start wearing cowboy boots out and about and, don’t worry, I’m shifting back to my normal kind of concerts starting tonight but, for one weekend only, it was so nice to be lost in a world I knew nothing about.

I won’t spend a lot of time about the music as it wasn’t quite for me but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least point out a few of the stand-out performances that I saw over the three days. One of those was Blanco Black. I had no clue who this guy was before a friend sent a video of his my way this morning and it was love at first watch. Blanco was an absolute stand-out due to the fact that his sound was unlike anyone else’s. Blending rap, hip-hop, and soul with a classic country vibe, I found myself completely in awe of not only his songwriting power but also his vocal prowess. Joking around that he couldn’t whistle, he opted to go falsetto for certain parts of certain songs and, although, for a cheesy reason, I couldn’t help but let my jaw hit the ground as I listened to him. I know Blanco is only the second act of the second day and I still have a full day and a half to go but I’m willing to call it now– Blanco Brown stole the day and this entire festival with his infectious energy and truly fun set today.

Carrie Underwood was another complete stunner to me. Sure, go ahead and make your jokes and snicker to yourselves. I truly never thought I would be a fan of Carrie but, after seeing her perform live and seeing the amount of vocal power and overall energy that she has, there’s no denying the fact that, if given the chance, I would go see her again in a heartbeat. Honestly, all of the headliners of the festival were strong but Carrie stood out when put up against Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Zac Brown Band (although it’s so cool to be able to say I’ve seen Lynyrd Skynyrd now, and catching Zac Brown Band is always a treat).

Other than those few acts, the rest of the music really blended together for me. I won’t say any of it was bad but I will say that it just wasn’t for me. I’ve never understood pop-infused country music and it just doesn’t do much (if anything) for me. I’m not a cowboy, never plan to be, don’t drive a pick-up, and never plan to so I just find that I can’t relate to the music. I know I’m generalizing here but, just looking around the audience, it was clear that it was not my world which also means that I don’t have to understand it. What I did understand is that the weekend was spent surrounded by other people listening to music while being around friends with cold drinks in their hands and a song in their soul. Cheesy, yes, but, as was stated by festival organizer Chris Hawkey, music is a universal connector and that was heard and seen loud and clear throughout the weekend.

The weekend was not without its flaws and I have a million complaints to air out from the lacking of free drinking water conveniently placed around the grounds (you had to trek back inside the building to find water fountains which, although the air conditioning was nice, was a bit of a hike from the festival grounds where it was 90+ degrees. The layout of this festival was another complaint of mine. If you weren’t there then it will be hard to explain but, to put it simply, the good spots at this festival are reserved for VIP ticket holders. That’s great but there weren’t enough VIPs to fill the prime spots while general admission ticket holders were left with just a few areas to actually see the stage and had to resort to giant screens beyond that. I did like that the lack of people in VIP meant more personal space for me and the ability for me to easily snap some awesome pictures of everyone performing but it just didn’t quite make sense to me. One last red flag was the fact that there was a second stage going on throughout the weekend but, unless you were wandering around, you probably wouldn’t catch it. I don’t understand why this second stage wasn’t broadcasted on the giant screens but, not my festival, not my choice. I’m just thankful I had the ability and the will to wander a bit because I truly caught some amazing acts over on the small stage that deserved to be on the main stage.

Twin Cities Summer Jam was not one of those events that I was super excited about if I’m being quite honest. The line-up was not exactly my typical cup of tea and I figured I would know nobody there and would know none of the songs. A mix of bumping into some friends and hearing some familiar covers made me realize that, although on paper this festival wasn’t for me when push came to shove, there was no other place I wanted to spend my weekend at. Cheers to you Twin Cities Summer Jam. See you next year?

Oh, and, by the way, #judycrew for life. If you know, you know.