Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson

Watching Sturgill Simpson play the main stage at Governors Ball feels like a victory for the pockets of country fans in this city who have been quietly supporting country music all along. Simpson is one of those rare outliers whom country purist love to tout, he’s not beholden to any radio sound or gimmicks but managed to transcend the confines of country fans and break into some relative mainstream fame. He’s still a very humble guy though, dedicating “Living The Dream” to the audience early in the set, citing them as the reason he’s living his own dream. His breakout album, 2014’s Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, was anchored by “Turtles All The Way Down,” a cosmic zen nonsense trip that resonates powerfully, most because of the beautiful, simple line: “Love’s the only thing that ever saved my life.” The crowd was still pretty sparse for the early 3 PM set, split between the eager, shirtless enthusiasts who would yodel back at Simpson and those who looked a little bewildered, not totally sure what they were hearing. One of the covers that Sturgill is well-known for is The Osborne Brothers’ “Listening To The Rain” — except he spikes it with a huge dollop of T. Rex, mixing in “The Motivator” for a genre-smashing whirlwind dervish of a country-bluegrass-rock hybrid. Huge pockets of the crowd were skunking by the time Sturgill drew the song to a close, and that’s the first time in ages I’ve seen a country crowd move at all. Guess he wasn’t just blowing smoke with the “metamodern” part. –Cailtin

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