Brandi Carlile has a long history of shows in central Iowa and Saturday night felt like the culmination of the years of groundwork. The singer-songwriter played the second to last set at Hinterland, but delivered a headliner's performance.
Carlile kicked things off with 'The Stranger at My Doors," getting incredible harmonies from bandmember twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth. As the song finished, Carlile held her guitar aloft, triumphantly. She wasn't celebrating a good show too early; in fact the entire show felt like a celebration.
Next came Carlile's arguably biggest hit, "The Story," with the singer inviting the crowd to sing along.
"What a beautiful night, what a beautiful day!" Carlile told the crowd. "I knew Iowa was down to party today."
Next she got the crowd stomping and clapping for "Hard Way Home" and broke out a cowbell to start "Dying Day."
"This is one of the best festival lineups I've ever played! To the point where if you don't have me back again next year, I'm gonna hop on a plane and come here just to listen to who you do have playing," Carlile said. So if Sam Summers needs to fill up his schedule for next year, he has his first volunteer.
Then bassist Phil Hanseroth and Carlile had a high note face-off, with Carlile coming out the winner, but he held his own. The band played "The Things I Regret" before breaking out the first of two big surprises.
Jess Wolf and Holly Laessig of Lucius joined the band on stage for a crowd-pleasing cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
"The 12-year-old Brandi was just freaking out," Carlile said after finishing the song.
Carlile quickly changed the tone with the haunting "The Eye" off her latest album, "The Firewatcher's Daughter." Carlile said this song illustrates that her band doesn't have just one lead singer, with the twins carrying a lot of the wait.
A segment of another cover followed; after announcing that she recently got married - to a woman - she played a bit of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'."
Toward the end of her set, Carlile really started to rock with "Mainstream Kid," then got feet stomping again with "Raise Hell."
Then, Carlile pulled out another ace she had ready. Members of Old Crow Medicine Show" joined her on stage for a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." It was a great end to the night and the perfect transition to headliners Old Crow.