Sam Hunt Leaves the Night on at 15 in a 30 Stop in New Jersey [Pictures]
“Body Like a Back Road” is the song of the summer, and it is a good summer to be Sam Hunt. The football-star-turned-country-staple has found himself at home the main stage, leading his first headlining tour with Maren Morris, Chris Janson and Ryan Follese in tow. On June 25 in Holmdel, New Jersey, he threw a house party.
Follese got the night started early with his short, but sweet set that included “Float Your Boat” and “Put a Label on It” before Janson jumped onstage with his impossible-to-match high energy — and those harmonica skills! “Redneck Life,” “Name on It” and “Fix a Drink” were just a few songs Janson played with his four-piece band before even breaking a sweat. He went on to play cover of “I Love Life” and “Truck Yeah,” both songs Janson had a hand in co-writing, before “Buy Me a Boat.” He closed his part of the show with “Ring of Fire” to tribute Johnny Cash.
Morris was next, taking the stage to dramatic effects and fog before shining in the spotlight and laying some “Sugar” on the stage. The sassy Texan surged the stage with her elegant and spicy stage presence to “80s Mercedes” and “Hero” before everyone to her kind of church with her smash hit, “My Church.”
Then, it was party time. Hunt took the stage to “Leave the Night On” and dashed through the packed amphitheater during “House Party.” Through several of his own heart-stopping melodies, Hunt shared the many stories of what made him the music man he is today. Hunt recognizes that he’s got naysayers, and that many don’t consider him country music — but he’s undeterred.
“I loved country music,” he said of growing up. I didn’t know the difference between Nirvana and Madonna until I was a teenager, but I knew every Alan Jackson song.” His cousins also turned him onto Usher and other icons of ’90s R&B, which would later on inspire him to combine the two influences to revolutionize his own sound.
In between stories of his music evolution, he played acoustic covers of “Cop Car,” “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” “Hey Ya” and “I Met a Girl,” which he wrote. Hunt went on to dedicated a special cover of “We Are Tonight” as a shoutout to Billy Currington, who once helped cover Hunt’s expenses for gas and food to help Hunt and and his bandmates get to a gig in Pittsburgh.
Toward the end of his acoustic set, he remarked: “Whether you grew up in the country or city, don’t pay attention of genres of music or genres of people … you don’t have to hang out with people who look like you.” He added that the next generation will take over and “tear down the walls that separate people, and no other generation has ever been as integrated as this one.”
Hunt brought his band back midway through “Speakers” and sprinted toward his big finish with his new record-breaking hit “Body Like a Back Road,” followed by “Saturday Night” and “Break Up in a Small Town,” with an added snippet of “Drinkin’ Too Much.”
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