It’s a festival

It’s a festival

Birds Nest broadens its scope and doubles its acts

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

The Waste Management Phoenix Open often is referred to as “The Greatest Show on Grass.”

But after the final putt is made each day at TPC Scottsdale, the greatest show after the greatest show quickly gets under way at the Coors Light Birds Nest, always the place to see and be seen.

And this year, it’s going to be bigger and cover a wider range of music, according to Dillan Micus, chairman of the Birds Nest.

“We’re doubling the talent this year,” Micus said. “We’re giving it a true festival feel with multiple genres like country—not the country my mom and dad listened to, but pop, fun, upbeat country.

“Flo Rida, he’s hip hop, but he’s also Top 40 pop. Kaskade is a world-renowned DJ. Blink-182 is huge and we close it out with Steve Aoki, who throws one heck of a party.”

Micus’ goal for this year is to bolster the lineup to reflect the magnitude of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which runs Jan. 30 through Feb. 6.

“It’s the after party to the party,” he said with a boisterous laugh. “It adds another entertainment option. The capacity is 8,500 to 9,000.”

While Aoki will close the show, country star Chase Rice will open it. Rice may not be a veteran of the Birds Nest, but he, too, can wrap his head around a good party.

“Our shows and the word ‘party’ go hand in hand,” Rice said. “It’s an escape from reality for all of us—myself, the fans. That’s what I like to create.

“We’re in our own heads with social media, work, school, whatever. When you show up to my show—myself included—you forget about all of that. We’re all just jamming to music for three hours.”

Rice, who recently released the single “Everybody We Know Does,” will join Jake Owen for the first night of the Birds Nest, Wednesday, Feb. 1. Country superstar Toby Keith and The Band Perry follow on Feb. 2. The next two days, the festival will take a pop turn with Kaskade and Flo Rida on Feb. 3, and Blink-182 and Aoki on Feb. 4.

Rice has dabbled in just about everything in his 31 years.

Born and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, Rice co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s massive crossover hit “Cruise;” played football at the University of North Carolina and worked for NASCAR with the Hendrick Motorsports crew before moving to Nashville to pursue music. Rice, who is working on his sophomore album, finished in the final three of “Survivor: Nicaragua” in 2010.

“This is the longest I’ve ever spent doing anything,” Rice said about his passion for music. “Football was my life before, and then I did ‘Survivor’ and NASCAR. I found a home here with music. Going back, I loved Garth Brooks, the Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, Eminem. I love listening to different kinds of music and different genres. It’s easy to do this for a living.”

Playing for the troops is one of the most gratifying parts of his job, he says.

“My grandpas were Air Force and Navy,” he said. “I love our troops. I love anybody who loves America. I can assure you that the people over there have a great sense of the same America that I have a love for. They’re willing to lay down their life for our country. There’s no greater honor for me than singing for somebody who’s willing to do that.

“I enjoy that we have a freedom to say whatever we want. The only issue is people have opinions and people have thoughts of what America should be. We can’t talk about it. Everybody needs to chill out. We have freedom of speech, but if you have a problem with my views, then let’s talk about it. Shutting each other out ain’t going to do a damn thing. It’s too black and white. It’s too right and left. Let’s meet in the middle.”

Music is one thing that can bring everyone together, Rice adds.

The Birds Nest will do just that.

“For the people who love my music, I’m going to make it a night for them,” he says.

Every night appears to be a night for them. Toby Keith and The Band Perry were approaching sellouts before the new year. And, Micus says, tickets were flying off the shelf for Rice and Owen.

“We’re anticipating a full sellout,” Micus said.

Coors Light Birds Nest

Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale, 17020 N. Hayden Road
All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb.1: Chase Rice and Jake Owen, $65-$300.
Thursday, Feb. 2: The Band Perry and Toby Keith, only $95 tickets remain.
Friday, Feb. 3: Kaskade and Flo Rida, $65-$300.
Saturday, Feb. 4: Blink-182 and Steve Aoki, $75-$350.
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