Most people are surprised when they learn that I like country music. I say to them, I don't just like country music, I LOVE IT! I'll take country music over hip-hop or rap any day of the week. Being a woman of color, it's not hard to see why some people find it so hard to believe that I love country music. To be completely honest I don't know where I got this love of country music from. My mom always listened to rock or pop when I was growing up. My dad listened to rap and reggae almost religiously. And my brother was a mix of both. Then there was me listening to country music, and even my family members were shocked. I remember when I told my dad I was going to a Sam Hunt concert and told him that he was a country artist. The look on his face was priceless.
I had been wanting to go to Country Thunder for a couple of years now, but with school and a tight budget, it was always hard to make it so I could go. This year I was determined to go at least one of the days since the festival lasts four days. The next struggle was finding someone to go with me. I knew of a bunch of my former classmates in high school who had gone previous years and were most likely going again, this issue was, I never really talked to them only saw their posts on social media and thought it would be weird if I out of the blue asked them to go with me to Country Thunder.
Then I asked my best friend Alyssa, and it was an immediate yes. We both agreed that we could only afford going one day of the festival so we had to decide which headliner we both really wanted to see. In our top two choices we both had Dierks Bentley, so that is who we bought tickets for.
Flash forward to the weekend of Country Thunder, I had a work meeting in the morning, a scholarship lunch in the early afternoon, and Country Thunder to follow. The plan was for Alyssa and me to drive out to Florence, park relatively close to the venue and Uber or Lyft inside. It sounds like a simple plan, right? Wrong! We parked a mile and a half away from the venue. It took us an hour and a half to get a Lyft inside the venue.
Thank you, Karen, for being a hilarious Lyft driver.
She was an older lady who first drove someone to Mesa to the venue and stayed out there for several hours making her rounds, We were her last ride of the day. The reason why it took so long for us to get a ride inside is that it took forever for the drivers to get out of the venue. There is one rode in and the same rode out of the venue. Each direction there were cars were bumper to bumper until a police car zoomed passed causing everyone to drive as far on the side of the rode that they could until they were almost in a ditch. There were several Uber drivers who canceled our ride because they knew they were going to take forever to get out. Alyssa and I both had ride share apps up to try and get a ride. It was crazy, but we finally got in.
Once we were at the venue, we had the best time. We met so many nice people, bought shirts to commemorate the occasion and then found a place to watch the show. We ended up taking a photo with the duo High Valley, which I regret to say I had never heard of prior to that day. But when you're given the chance to take a photo with a singer(s), you take the opportunity. We also took the opportunity to take a photo with a guy whose butt was sticking out of his shorts.
(He was also wearing a shirt that read "Cowboy Butts Drive Me Nuts," so you know, it made sense.)
Brothers Osborne played before Dierks Bentley and wow did they command the stage. Every other song I knew and belted out along with them. It was so fun having everyone around you enjoying the same music and just having a good time. Most of us anyways had a good time anyways. Others around us got too drunk and acted aggressively towards simple situations that didn't need to escalate.
Once Dierks Bentley came on stage it was a completely different feel. He is an Arizona native, so you could easily tell the people who were actually from Arizona and how prideful they were with that fact. Dierks even told the crowd how before the show, he took a private jet from his home in Nashville out to Paradise Valley where his mom lives. Everyone in the crowd, even the big burly guy in front of me said "awwwww." It was a touching sentiment that we all appreciated to hear. Alyssa and I stayed until about 11 pm and we started to head out and find our way back to her car. We thought it was going to be an easy way out since we were leaving early. We were wrong.
It took us an hour and a half to get to the venue and it took us the same amount of time to realize we weren't getting out by Lyft, Uber, or taxi. We hitched a ride with to other people in a taxi to the entrance of the venue, but then they were going in the opposite direction that we were so the taxi driver told us to get out. We tried to get an Uber or Lyft again and both apps said there were no cars available in the area, which in reality was a lie. They were coming to the venue, but they were already booked for a ride. We were left stranded with only one option; we had to walk to the car. It was supposed to be a 30-minute walk back to the car. Mind you, we were wearing tank tops and shorts and it was below 60 degrees outside. We were miserable, to say the least. Ten minutes into our walk and a cop car approaching us in the opposite direction that we were walking stops us on a bridge. Of course, our first thought is "well shoot, please don't give us a ticket for jaywalking."
To our relief, the male officer offered to ride us off the bridge. We then told him where our car was located and he took us the rest of the way there. While in the back of the cop car, I look over at Alyssa and say, "this better be our first and only time in a cop car." The police officer overheard me and said, "Well at least it's on good circumstances." When we got to where our car was, I tried opening the door, completely forgetting I was in a cop car and had to wait for the officer to open the door. In short, Alyssa and I learned that day that we will be paying for parking the next time we go to Country Thunder. All in all, we both had a great night.
P.S. my feet hurt for two solid days after from all the walking in those cowgirl boots.