After an unforeseen sabbatical year due to the pandemic, the Watershed Country Music Festival returned to the Gorge Amphitheater from July 30 to August 30. 1 without a hitch and with superstars Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley and Thomas Rhett headlining each of the three evenings.
I attended my first Watershed at the Gorge in 2019 – it was awesome – and here are the notes of my happy comeback two years later for the July 31st set topped by Bentley:
• One outlet recorded a total attendance of 20,000 people, while a Watershed advertiser reported 25,000 people.
• It was predicted to be in the mid 100s, but luckily the sky was overcast and stayed in the 90s with a breeze. A fire nearby the day before didn’t help matters as the air was smoky and hazy, but it wasn’t dangerous. Too bad there was no beautiful sunset.
• Cooler weather meant the skin of male and female fans was less noticeable than in 2019, but there were still plenty of curves, pecs, hats and cowboy boots on display.
• Parking and camping seemed more organized this year, and there were many outbuildings everywhere.
• As expected, there were Trump flags and a truck sported a curse describing President Joe Biden and COVID-19. But there were Gay Pride flags, and the POC and LGBTQ + communities were also present.
• Daytime crowds were modest for musicians, vendors and attractions (line dancing and foam party, anyway?), But it was very full by the time Bentley took to the stage.
• Billy Currington, who played before Bentley, will headline the Spokane County Interstate Fair next month with Vince Neil of Motley Crew.
• Ashley McBryde and Australian country singer Morgan Evans wowed the crowd with their sets in front of Currington and Bentley.
• McBryde, who performs at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox on September 23, was grateful to have made the jump from the Next From Nashville tent in Watershed in 2019 to the headlining stage this year. “But I’m grateful to perform anywhere,” she said. “You are not here because of us – we are here because of you.”
• Will Evans achieve the success of fellow Australian Keith Urban? He certainly has the tips and the charm to do it. “You can tell by my voice I’m not from around here,” Evans joked.
• Audiences were excited about Laine Hardy on Next to Nashville and included Breland, a talented black country artist who is touring with Bentley as part of the “Beers on Us” tour.
• Dee Jay Silver was once again the hype DJ on both stages of Watershed.
• Bentley’s rock set was identical to their free and easy concert at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino on July 30th.
I can’t wait for Watershed to return in 2022.