INDIO—With temperatures soaring into the triple digits, Stagecoach 2023 kicked off at the Empire Polo Club in Indio on Friday, April 28. The 80,000 in attendance were there to party, regardless if you could have fried an egg on a banjo.

Day 1 featured headliner Luke Bryan, Jon Pardi and Elle King at the Main Stage. The Palomino stage featured artists whose exact genre differs. Featuring singer songwriter Melissa Etheridge, legendary Rock ‘N Roll band ZZ Top, who tore through the roof with guitarist Billy Gibbons rip-roaring Texas sized guitar solos.

Friday headliner, Bryan is used to playing at the Main Stage given he’s topped the bill four times now. He seemed to be comfortable as ever as he powered through his 25-song set. The crowd was still into it as they screamed their hearts out to songs like “Play It Again,” “I Don’t Want This Night To End” and “That’s My Kind Of Night.”

Stagecoach has become just as diverse as other music festivals such as Coachella and Austin City Limits.

For instance, California’s homegrown Compton Cowboys. They are 10 Black riders on horseback whose small ranch is one of the very last in a formerly semi-rural area of Compton — and they are bringing their horses to Stagecoach to tell their story and share in the experience.

After Bryan finished his set, a large swarm of people made their way into the Honky Tonk, where DJ Girl Talk was performing. The DJ mixed songs that included Queen’s “Under Pressure” and Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody.” The crowd danced while massive balloons and whale inflatables bounced and were passed around.

It was Jon Pardi who stole the show. Pardi opened up his set with a full band, including a violin and an accordion player that evoked a warm summer feeling that paired perfectly with his first song, “California Sunrise.” His performance drew large crowds that stretched to the very far outskirts of the sprawling venue.

The country star from Dixon, California, has several odes to the state and he was proud to pay his respects in front of a hometown audience.

“I love California,” Pardi said. “It taught me everything about country music, from agriculture to the hard-working people that make this country.”

At the end of his set, TV personality Guy Fieri surprised Pardi with a video of Alan Jackson inviting him to join the Grand Ole Opry. Pardi is now officially the first native of California to join a prestigious organization that is invite-only.

This was only Day 1. We still have two days of performances from Kane Brown, Brooks and Dunn and Chris Stapleton waiting for the country loving crowd. Yee-Haw!