Brett Eldredge isn't an obvious festival headliner. He's part crooner, part balladeer, which made for long stretches of rest during his 75-minute set at Country Jam 2018 on Thursday (June 14).

But an open-air venue, not a theater, is the quintessential place to appreciate his resonance. With desert mountains behind him, a star-speckled sky above and miles of Grand Junction prairie in front of him (plus a few thousand tent and camper sites, empty as people took in this closing set), the "Love Someone" singer set a quiet, but still energetic tone for this four-day festival.

"Something I'm Good At" and his new single opened the set. Eldredge's tall, athletic frame moved effortlessly from stage to riser and back again, working a sweat that forced him to remove his caramel jacket before 11PM local time. He's fun, with spontaneous outbursts and fresh ways of introducing his bandmates. He smiles, so you smile. By song three ("The Reason") the 32-year-old had whiskey dreams, and thus began an extended period of chill. The well-written, tortured "Cycles" was delivered from a sofa. "No Stopping You" would come soon after, his inspiring words cutting through the dust on a windy west Colorado night. Unrestrained by arena walls, his notes ran free with curious beauty.

Kanye West's "Gold Digger" was the lone cover song, and it preceded the moment everyone hoped to see. Yes, Edgar the dog was there, and yes, he made appearance. The entire audience watched the two friends play off one another before joining Eldredge to sing his pup to sleep. It didn't quite work, but it was adorable nonetheless.

"Superhero" came before a volley of hit songs that would ultimately close the show. While "Don't Ya" came early, "Lose My Mind," "I Wanna Be That Song" and "Beat of the Music" closed the main set before a pause and return for "Mean to Me" and "Drunk on Your Love." Those who came early for night one of this annual four-night festival stayed throughout his charismatic set, signing along with the songs they remembered and appreciating a true entertainer's interpretation of those they did not. Eldredge cuts a large figure onstage. Few demand your attention in quite the same way, even Edgar.

Eldredge's set closed a day of surprises. Trent Harmon's vocal prowess was known, but few were aware of his moves on stage. Josh Kelley was perhaps the most entertaining of the festival thus far, and opening acts Annie Brobst and Sasha McVeigh proved country women could keep up.

Day 2 on Friday night will be headlined by Miranda Lambert.

See More Photos from Day 1 of Country Jam Colorado

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