This past Saturday evening, Hardy played a sold-out show at the Covelli Center in Youngstown and blew the roof off the place! The energy between the artist and audience was unlike anything I have witnessed before, and I can now say that I get Hardy. I've always loved his music, but I get it now. I don't know if that makes sense, but I'm not sure how else to describe it. Lainey Wilson compared his performance to a WWE event and at first I was confused, but not now.
Hardy's fans seem to be as intense as he is, in the best way. Every song was a jam, and his setlist impressed me in that he was able to sample his diverse catalog seemlessly. To play tunes like Radio Song and One Beer within the same act and have an equally warm reception from the audience is a feat. I still can't get Unapologetically Country As Hell out of my head, which was probably my favorite from his performance.
Of course I can't talk about this concert without mentioning my favorite female country artist, Lainey Wilson. (Megan Moroney might be tied with her, but I digress.) I've been a huge fan of Lainey since she first hit the limelight, and fondly remember meeting her for the first time at our Bossom Buddies Benefit Conert 2022. She was just gaining traction in the charts at that point, and soon after exploded in popularity (rightfully so). She's just amazing, and her story of perservearance is inspirational to all. I love her Bell Bottom Country style and attire, and on Saturday she wore this super-cool hat with a feather coming out; it was a certified 'fit.
My favorite song of hers is a little ditty called Those Boots, off her latest album. She unfortunately did not play it, but I can understand why as it is one of her less popluar tunes and may not have fit in so well with the rest of the show. She did play all my other favorites however, and she even did a striking solo version of Never Say Never. It was so good.
To see Lainey Wilson glow up from where she began to selling out huge venues touring with Hardy makes me so happy. I was content to see she has mantained the same band she toured with on the smaller stages. Her producer/guitarist dude with the bowler hat is a whole vibe; he and the rest of the band are quite talented. Just like Hardy, Lainey Wilson did not miss a beat and put on a stellar performance.
I unfortunately did not catch the opener Dylan Marlowe, but it was a sort-of funny story why. I never drive out to the Youngstown area, and I'm not sure if I've even been there once. With that, I was unfamilar with the map and ended up going about fifteen minutes in the wrong direction once getting off the highway. Let me tell you, it was weird. There was a single road with no outlets for miles, with woods and industry on either side. Traveling down it I thought, "there's no way the tour busses went down this road: something's off," yet I proceeded still.
I should have trusted my gut, as I ended up in this weird little town that seemed like the setting for a horror movie. There were a ton of houses, streets, and cars; and aside from a resturant/bar we passed on the outskirts of town, there was literally no activity. It was uncanny, and I could smell bonfires but saw none and nobody. I joked that the whole village must be at the Hardy concert, but seriously it was strange. I'm still a little creeped out from it.
I did hear Dylan Marlowe perform a Jon Pardi tune he wrote, and Hardy sang a Morgan Wallen tune that he penned. Scott Wynn once told me that Hardy is an incredible songwriter who has had a hand in many a hit song, but I had no idea just how much he has written. He wrote every one of my favorite Wallen songs and so much more, and I bet you'd be shocked as well to discover the depth of his discography. I'd venture to claim that Hardy is the best country music songwriter of this era. I'd love to hear a rebuttal for that, but personally I can't think of anyone comparable.
To wrap this long blog up, I just want to express how thankful I am to have my job here at WQMX and for all the experiences it has afforded me. It's not always glamorous, but there's no where else I'd rather be in my professional life right now than at the best dang radio staion in the whole wide world, Your Country 94.9 WQMX! Attending events we put on and interacting with listeners is one of the best parts about what I do, and if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, Rubber City Radio Group is looking for enthustiatic individuals to work part-time on our Street Team in promotions. I'll drop a link for more info on that below, and thanks for reading!