When it’s the 50th anniversary of your award show, and it’s being held in Texas, it’s time to go big. And that’s just how the Academy of Country Music kicked things off tonight for the live broadcast of the 50th annual ACM Awards.

Hosts Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan stood on the floor of the massive AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in front of some 80,000 fans. As they welcomed viewers they noted that 50 years ago, times were very different, and a young Merle Haggard took home the award for Most Promising Male Vocalist.

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Right on cue, the first of the night’s many live performers took the stage, Eric Church and Keith Urban, and they busted into a rowdy version of Church’s rock anthem “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag.”

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Church took lead vocals, belting out lines about getting “loud and rowdy on PBR” while someone “plays Merle on the jukebox.”  He and Urban then wandered with their guitars into the pit, shaking a few hands and dueling on some leads, including riffs from Haggard’s “Mama Tried.”

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