Storms delay but don’t spoil Faster Horses party vibe

Adam Graham
The Detroit News
After a lengthy rain delay, Brad Paisley performs Saturday at Faster Horses.

After a storm delayed the start of his set by several hours, Brad Paisley was all smiles when he hit the stage at Faster Horses Saturday night.

“Better late than never y’all, huh?” the singer asked the crowd, which was ready to party after several weather-related hiccups interrupted the day’s events.

An early afternoon storm caused the start of the festival to be pushed back an hour. And Saturday night’s storm forced organizers to clear the grounds and send fans back to their campsites for more than two hours until the skies cleared.

Fans were told to return to their campsites at around 7:45 p.m., and gates to the festival re-opened around 10 p.m. Paisley, who was originally scheduled to go on at 9:20 p.m., started his set at 11:35 p.m. and played until just after 1 a.m., a late night for the main stage entertainment, which traditionally wraps around 11.

Paisley’s boozy set catered to the buzzed-up crowd, and he sang songs about good times, summer fun and lost loves. His stage included a working bar, where a select group of VIPs toasted Paisley all night, and he closed his 85-minute set with “Alcohol” (which is not to be confused with “Beer,” a song Lee Brice sang on the same stage a day earlier).

Before the storm, Justin Moore played to a huge crowd that rivaled Carrie Underwood’s the night before in terms of sheer size. Moore was pumped up and the crowd was behind him all the way, especially when he performed a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and dedicated it to the “redneck” crowd.

The set by Dwight Yoakam, who was due to go on before Paisley, was canceled due to the weather and was not rescheduled.

Despite the rain and the delays, Saturday’s show had the elements that make Faster Horses a success: A giddy crowd, a friendly vibe and a welcoming atmosphere. The rocky weather actually cooled down what was expected to be a scorching hot day, and winds whipped through the festival at night providing a refreshingly cool breeze.

In between sets by Raelynn, Ryan Kinder and up-and-comer Kelsea Ballerini, whose commendable performance on the second-stage hinted at a promising future, fans busied themselves on the festival’s giant waterslide, in the foam party tent and on the fest’s ferris wheel and gravity swing.

Festival producer Brian O’Connell welcomed fans back to the main stage after the evening’s rain delay. “Faster Horses is back on!” he bellowed, as the fest’s in-house DJ, Dee Jay Silver, launched straight into a set of party favorites including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nelly, and the theme song to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

The crowd – despite being on its third consecutive night of partying, following Thursday’s move-in and Friday’s opening night – ate it up, singing along to staples like “Paradise City” like it was being performed live. It doesn’t take much to rile the Faster Horses crowd.

Following Paisley’s set, Silver played a late night dance set in the Next From Nashville tent that lasted until 2 a.m. During the performance, O’Connell got on the microphone and teased the crowd about next year’s Faster Horses headliners, before Silver dropped a song by Jason Aldean. The superstar country singer was one of the festival's original headliners when the event launched in 2013.

The festival, which drew a sold-out crowd of 40,000 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, is set to wrap Sunday night with a performance by Florida Georgia Line.