New England isn't exactly known as "Nashville North," but one will nary be able to tell when a sea of cowboy hats and ripped denim invades Gillette Stadium for this weekend's
New England Country Music Festival, otherwise known as Country Fest. The two-day party brings Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Eli Young Band, and Kacey Musgraves to the hallowed football field Aug. 23-24. If you’re a first-timer, here’s a quick guide to the types of characters you may run into.
The Urban Cowboy
Tight jeans, western shirt, pointy cowboy boots, probably some flippy boy band hair, and a half-beard. He grew up in Norwell but he’s going for something a little more like El Paso. And if you’re an attractive female, he’ll even give you a swig of Jack Daniels from the bottle.
The Kenny Chesney Wannabe
This is a sub-genre of The Urban Cowboy who actually believes he is a chilled-out country boy like the festival’s headliner. He’s got a straw cowboy hat, fake tan, sleeveless shirt, no shoes, and he is definitely – DEFINITELY – drinking Corona Light. If you also happen to be barefoot, avoid treading the same terrain. He may have ringworm.
The Frat (Cow)boy
This casual fan of country music is often confused with The Urban Cowboy, though the differences are quite clear. While The Urban Cowboy has committed to his look 365 days a year, The Frat (Cow)boy is a mere visitor to the country lifestyle. He hasn’t mastered the basics yet, like investing in Luccheses or Wrangler jeans. Instead, he wears a ripped BC shirt, Lucky Brand jeans, and a cheap straw cowboy hat. He can often be seen congregating with another creature on this list, The Sorority Girl, and he drinks Bud from a keg.
The Actual Cowboy
He pulls up in a dusty Ford F-350 (most likely with New Hampshire plates) wearing work boots and a faded John Deere trucker cap. He smells like a hard day’s work and he’s ready for a hard day of partying to laid back Chesney jams with some ice cold Coors.
The Sorority Girl
Also easily spotted, this cutoff-denim-shorts-wearing breed of sorta country fan likes to scream-sing the wrong lyrics to hits like “Summertime” and “When the Sun Goes Down.” Cover your ears when you hear the opening notes to “(She Comes From) Boston,” as a large gaggle of these girls will shriek from their bared mid-riffs like there’s no tomorrow. They drink wine coolers and Budweiser from The Frat (Cow)boy's keg and they leave a mound of red solo cups in their wake.
He’s not here for the music. He’s not here for the tailgating. He’s here to take in the scenery. Specifically: The Sorority Girl(s). He doesn't drink anything, he doesn't wear anything special, and he may not even leave his car.
The City Kid
We don’t quite get it either but these urban dwellers love hip-hop and country music. Indeed, these lads and ladies are some of the most diehard fans at Country Fest. And it would serve you best not to question that.
The Miserable Boyfriend
This is an easily-spotted Country Fest creature. He looks like a five-year-old child being dragged through JCPenney by his mother, but instead it’s his country-lovin’ gal pal who yanks at his wrist. Good luck, brother. It's going to be a long day.
The Over the Hill Country Fangirl
She's wearing a 1983 Bocephus concert T and tapered jeans. Her hair is heavily moussed and blown back to look like The Judds three decades ago. Her husband bares a vague resemblance to Conway Twitty. They came here looking for acts that simply aren't on the bill and they're disappointed by what they've found. That won't keep them from slamming back a couple of tall boys and hollering out for "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)."
The boys look like Justin Bieber. The girls look like miniature versions of The Sorority Girl. If they're annoying you by texting throughout the show, fear not. They mostly likely won't last the whole concert before getting busted for underage drinking.
The I’m-So-Not-Country Wildcard
This is the most bizarre Country Fest character, a man or woman who strolls around with a craft beer, a cocked eyebrow, and a smirk, taking in (and judging) the other characters on this list. If asked, they say they’re a longtime Grace Potter fan hoping the Nocturnals frontwoman joins Chesney onstage for the 2011 single “You and Tequila,” because “that’s the one country song I like.” Secretly, they celebrate Chesney’s entire catalog.
The Hardcore Tailgater
This older group of men and women has perhaps a mild interest in country music but more than anything, they’re just itching for football season to start back up (and none of this pre-season bologna). They’re ready to bust out their grills and crock pots while a little Eric Church “Springsteen” plays on their Subaru hatchback’s stereo. They have a cooler full of brews and there's a good chance they may not actually attend the show.
About Sound Effects
ContributorsSarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.