If you were in northwestern Pennsylvania on Saturday night and heard girls screaming, there’s no need to worry – it was probably just the noise from the Hunter Hayes concert in Meadville, Pa.
Hayes headlined the opening night of the Crawford County Fair on August 16 with the help of his opening acts, country duo Dan + Shay and rising star Sam Hunt. The small-town show attracted many local country music fans, but also drew in die-hard fans from Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland.
Some fans arrived nearly seven hours before show time just to catch a glimpse of Hayes soundchecking, or to snatch one of the 150 meet and greet wristbands that Dan + Shay gave out at the merch stand.
And while the fans may have waited a long time, the wait proved to be worth it once the show got started.
Sam Hunt took the stage around 7 p.m. and warmed fans up with his first single, “Leave The Night On,” which is still climbing the country charts. Hunt also treated fans to some tunes from his debut album, X2C, including “Ex to See,” “House Party,” and “Breakup in a Small Town.”
Although most in the audience didn’t know Hunt’s songs, everyone was out of their seats and singing along when he covered “We Are Tonight” and “Cop Car,” which he penned for Billy Currington and Keith Urban respectively. Fans sang-along and danced to the number-one hits written by Hunt, and the energy in the Crawford County Fair grandstand continued to rise.
After Hunt’s set, rain began to sprinkle over the Crawford County Fair, and concertgoers took cover under umbrellas and rain ponchos. But not even a little rain could put a damper on the excitement that was building for Dan + Shay and Hunter Hayes.
Dan + Shay rocked the crowd when they opened with a Guns N’ Roses hit and later played a Def Leppard/Diamond Rio mash up, which was certainly a favorite with the parents accompanying their teens at the show. Their set was met with the approving shrieks of girls as they played songs from their debut album, Where It All Began.
Dan Smyers, notably a Pennsylvania native, and Shay Mooney made themselves at home on the stage – running around, jumping, and bringing fans up out of their seats. But the high-energy performance was just a taste of what the audience was about to experience with Hunter Hayes.
The rain continued to drizzle on and off again, but it didn’t seem to phase fans. As soon as the lights dimmed before Hunter Hayes’ highly-anticipated arrival on stage, the young fans screeched and rushed past security to the front of the stage.
Hayes was met with a chorus of “I love you, Hunter,” and the screams of young girls as he opened with the title track of his sophomore album, Storyline. He continued to dazzle fans with his country radio hits, like “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” “I Want Crazy,” “Wanted,” “Tattoo,” and a cover of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.” His set was high-energy, interactive, and exhilarating.
Although the show was a fun time for everyone in the audience, Hayes also took a portion of the show to “get serious.” The 22-year-old Louisiana native shared his experiences with being the bullied music geek in high school before playing his single “Invisible.”
“This is dedicated to you guys and anyone who might be going through something like that, feeling like they don’t fit in or whatever it is,” Hayes told the audience. “Look, whatever the storm you’re facing right now, it will pass, and when it passes, your life will be so much more beautiful than you ever imagined. I promise.”
But it didn’t take long for Hayes to bring back the fun, party vibe to the show. Large, illuminated, inflatable balls bounced around in the audience as Hayes played “Light Me Up,” from the deluxe edition of his self-titled debut album.
With his high-energy performance, wide vocal range, and impressive guitar riffs, Hayes proved that his talent is well beyond his 22 years. The rising star gave the Pennsylvania crowd a glimpse of the future of modern country music – all while bringing a family-friendly show to the county fair.
Hayes traded out beer for a coffee mug, pickup trucks for Mustangs, and boots for Converse sneakers. While he may not look or act like the stereotypical country star, Hunter Hayes surely pleased the crowd of country fans with songs about love, loss, heartbreak, faith, and trying to fit in.
Hunter Hayes, Dan + Shay, and Sam Hunt gave an unforgettable kick-off to the Crawford County Fair and provided energetic performances that delighted fans who flocked from all over the country for the show.