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Hunt hits the mark

| Monday, March 30, 2015

sam-hunt-graphic-WEBKeri O'Mara | The Observer

The atmosphere before the Sam Hunt concert was electric, despite the 25-degree temperature outside. By the time I arrived, the line stretched from Legends to Mendoza College of Business. Some had been waiting “since 6 o’clock,” according to one Legends staff member. Dedication to country music didn’t mean The Basketball Game was forgotten, with students huddling around cell phones to watch the game as they waited for the doors to open. Finally, once people were allowed inside, it was to everyone’s relief that the concert was postponed until the end of The Game. To be honest, I almost didn’t make it into the concert. Legends hit capacity that night.

With the end of the potentially heart attack-inducing game, Sam Hunt came on stage, and his appearance made it clear that he wasn’t the country star of our parents’ days, decked in a snapback rather than a cowboy hat. He opened with “Speakers” before continuing with “Ex To See,” “Leave The Night On” and “Raised On It.” Despite the gloom that hovered in the moments before the concert began, the crowd was more than excited to see him, with the sea of plaid dancing and singing along with almost every song.

Hunt mixed in some different styles of music as well, doing a rendition of “Bump N’ Grind” and a few other more R&B songs. When Hunt went acoustic, all bets were off. To use the cliché, the crowd went wild. He performed a medley of several quintessentially country songs like “Fancy,” “She’s In Love With The Boy” and “Strawberry Wine.” He also performed covers of other songs, such as “Say My Name” and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”

“House Party,” one of the biggest hits of the night, had the crowd singing along with every word. With its finish, the crowd demanded an encore. The demand was met with “Break Up In a Small Town,” when, if even possible, the crowd became even more ecstatic, taking on an entire chorus by itself.

Hunt owned the stage, keeping his performance dynamic. Despite the huge number of people, even those toward the back of the room were able to see him. The lighting really added to the performance, shaping the mood of each song. Dimmer lights accompanied the acoustic music, and more vibrant lights went with songs like “House Party.”

Hunt proved himself worthy of his nomination for American Country Music New Artist of the Year, with his ability to take on such a variety of music. His songs reflect the modern country genre, including verses of country-esque rap, and a little less fiddle. Considering that his album “Montevallo” spent four weeks at No. 1 for Billboard’s Top Country Album and that his first tour, Lipstick Graffiti, sold out in 15 locations within minutes, he could very well become one of the dominant country stars of our time.

The group finished the performance with as much energy and dedication as they had when they began. It was incredible experience to be part of an audience for such a rising talent. In the years to come I doubt that there will be many more free concerts at colleges.

I was thoroughly impressed when I heard that Legends had gotten Sam Hunt to perform. As a country fan, I knew a decent amount of his songs from the radio and Spotify. Like many, I listened to most of “Montevallo” in preparation for the concert, but I was by no means a dedicated fan. The performance given at Legends changed that for me. Sam Hunt definitely proved that he was on his way to becoming a major musical star.



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