Sam Hunt made a stop in St.Paul during his 15 in a 30 tour for the MN State Fair this week to bring some of his most popular songs and a few lesser known hits he’d written for superstars. For those less familiar with Sam Hunt’s history it’s worth knowing and discussing before we dig into the show. Sam Hunt began his music career on a whim no less, buying a guitar and learning to play just over a year before he wrote the song “Come Over”, which Kenny Chesney took on and recorded later. In addition Sam has written songs recorded by artists including Keith Urban, William Michael Morgan, Billy Currington, and Reba McEntire. Songs such as Cop Car and We Are Tonight are on Sam’s 2015 album, Between The Pines(Mixtape) but still few realize the man behind the lyrics. Another things worth mentioning here before anyone gets too worried that read my take on Aaron Watson’s show and Texas Country music, I don’t consider this country music. Not in the traditional sense of the genre at least, so don’t fret I wouldn’t put Sam Hunt up next to the likes of Merle Haggard or Garth Brooks. This is new pop country, or bro country depending on your peer group, and it’s very much its own animal and to be enjoyed respectively.
Sam wasted not time getting to the fun when he jumped on stage Monday night, literally. Sam is an energetic performer which honestly caught me off guard and I was a bit worried would this be a guy who stand center stage and does the obligatory walk from stage left to stage right type night or not. Far from, Sam stopped moving only a handful of times and it was hard not to get caught up in the energy even while I stood like a statue on a cement block holding my gear. Admittedly I was told about Sam only a couple years ago when he released Raised On It(Thank you Brooklyn). I didn’t give it much thought at the time and tossed his music on a playlist with others like Eric Paslay’s “Friday Night” for some party jams and that was that. Fast forward 3 years and I still listen to that song and his newer tracks, and he’s gaining steam all the time. So it only made sense to start at the beginning and include Raised On It in his opening trifecta of; Raised On It, Leave the Night On, and House Party.
After opening with some career launching tunes Sam spoke to the audience on the backstory of some of his songs briefly and then jumped into the next batch of sing alongs. Including a Sam Hunt original, We Are Tonight, which I couldn’t tell if the crowd was in the know that he wrote the song or just though it was some sort of “A Cover Band Led by Sam Hunt” hour but they loved it and it is hard not to when Sam himself is jumping across the stage as guitarists jam and the light shows ensues. Speaking of said guitarists. The guitarists playing along with Sam may be one of my biggest surprises of the night. Despite knowing the songs from heart and being familiar with the guitar rifts there’s always a fear that the live thing won’t match up with the studio recording. My hat is off to the band behind Sam, they play clean and nailed every song as they worked through newer songs like Cop Car, We Are Tonight, and Body Like a Back Road.
Closing out the show after effectively, and necessarily, warming the crowd up after the evening’s rain storm Sam chose to end the night with an acoustic set and encore including Make You Miss Me and Break Up In a Small Town. Both, whether you admit it or not to the world, are pretty catch tunes and hard not to be a tad nostalgic from. Overall I have to say the show put all my worries at ease. I arrived with concerns of rain cancellations and whether the studio and radio edits we all know and love would hold up in the flesh but they didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Sam’s energy, the catchy sing along lyrics, and solid back up by his band made for a great night and have insured I’ll be trying to see him on his next visit strictly as a fan to soak it all in.