The ACM Party for a Cause Festival lasted most of the day and well in to the night. I was trying to take in as many of the activities I could, so I only caught a number of the artist that performed at the festival that day. I got to catch a little of Kix Brooks set, who also managed to host the festivities throughout the day, introducing bands and special guests (including members of A&E’s Duck Dynasty). The most I know of Kix Brooks music is through his work as Brooks & Dunn, and even then, I’ve never been a huge fan of that group. However, I will say that Brooks had all the high energy to be expected of a performer with a ton of stage experience and a willingness to interact with the fans in order to get them hyped up. He’s a tried and true performer to the very core of who he is, and even if his music isn’t necessarily what I’m in to, I can at least see that when I caught a few of his songs.
Hunter Hayes came next in my line-up of people to see, after a lunch break where we actually ran in to Dustin Lynch in Subway (which was kind of awesome), we headed back in to the blistering heat to catch his set. I’d seen Hunter at the Fremont Street event the year before in Vegas, and to be honest, I wasn’t super impressed with him. His vocals were a little shaky and he lacked a stage presence that I sort of expected considering the massive amount of young women that lined up early to see him. This year I definitely saw a change in him. He still had that big ol’ crowd of girls surrounding the stage anxiously awaiting his set time, but it was clear when he took the stage that he’d grown as a performer.
There’s no doubt that he’s talented, he plays every instrument under the sun, he’s a savvy songwriter in that he understands melody and composition enough to get his songs stuck in your head for days. I was surprised by his high energy, the undeniable way that was shining on stage and spreading his happiness with where he was right into that audience, and his constant interaction with not just his fans but his band. He played all the things you would expect for him to play, including his massive hit “Storm Warning,” “Wanted,” and my personal new favorite “Somebody’s Heartbreak.” Whether it’s from his recent experience on a major arena tour with Carrie Underwood, or just that he’s gotten older and consequently grown as a performer, I’m really happy to see that his embraced this growth. The way that he’s learning how to take command of the stage and possess his audience in a way that isn’t just blind obsession on their part (trust me, I’ve been there…), is really exciting to see.
While he’s not someone I would line up and wait for, I can see the appeal to him, and I’m glad I got another opportunity to take in one of his sets. More to the point, I got a ton of pictures of him that I think his fans will appreciate more than my review. In the next few days more will be posted to our facebook, so head on over there and like us so you get a chance to see them! Enjoy!