It seems as if a concert was the perfect way to end the first, stressful day of the spring semester for students. At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13, Catamounts began to congregate at the University Center- anxiously awaiting permission to enter the grand room and prepare themselves for the festivities that were to be provided by the rock/folk/indie sensation. While waiting in line to enter the concert space I got to speak with a plethora of students – both loyal fans of Kearney, and students who had never heard of the singer/songwriter. Whatever his/her distinction, it was unanimous that each was super excited to be able to witness the greatness that was about to take place.
Although Kearney may not be as mainstream as the John Mayer and Michael BublÃ© types, the 35 year old, Nashville based star has still had an impressive musical career.
According to Billboard.com, Kearney has achieved five Top 20 hits on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 Chart between 2003 and 2013. Of his song repertoire, Kearney is most known for his “Nothing Left to Lose,” “Trainwreck,” and “Closer to Love” records. Kearney’s most recent album Young Love snagged the #1 spots on Billboard’s Digital Albums, Christian Albums, and Rock Albums.
Promptly at 7 p.m. students began to file into the grand room (after being served the formality of the LAX pat down by security). For the next hour students began the inevitable Snapchat selfies, Instagram and Twitter posts, and Facebook statuses regarding their excitement and anticipation for the arrival of Mat Kearney. Kearney arrived on stage at 8:08 and immediately began to slay the stage with “Young Dumb Love.” Screaming fangirls and fanboys were instantly star-struck by the insanity of Kearney’s looks, charm, and charisma.
Kearney performed a total of 14 songs which spanned over an hour and a half time frame. Being a musician myself, I was completely floored by the power and accuracy of Kearney’s live vocals. What separates a singer from a musician is to sound just as flawless live, as he/she would sound on the recorded track. Kearney’s strong high-baritone voice filled the entire University Center and not once did his voice grow tired, or drop in pitch accuracy. In addition to Kearney being an obviously talented musician showcasing his immense guitar skills and piano skills, one simply could not deny the talent of his accompanying band; bringing with him two guitarists, a keyboardist, and a drummer.
The highlights of the concert will definitely be remembered by the Catamounts for a lifetime. First, Kearney obviously did his homework on Western Carolina University and its happenings. For instance, during one of the verses in one of the songs of his set-list, Kearney improvised on-the-spot and began to sing about several WCU situations ranging from our beloved Subway going up in flames, to our football team finally succeeding in achieving a conference win!
WCU sophomore Erica Longamore says,”. . .there were so many people here who had never heard of him before. The fact that he did his research and connected with people who had never heard of him is why he is such a great performer and why I love him so much!”
WCU sophomore Anna Abernethy agreed, and exclaimed that one of her favorite parts about the concert was Kearney’s sense of humor.
Both of these girls, who had been Kearney fans prior to his visitation at WCU, added that they were very pleased with the overall concert and excellence of Kearney’s voice.
Another highlight of the night was when Kearney exited the grand room stage and began to make his way through the crowd – making sure to hug each and every screaming girl during the process, and high-fiving his loyal male fans.
Kearney even stopped to take selfies with some of the catamounts during the song. His efforts to make himself relatable to the Catamounts,vwhich he joking referred to as a “catmounts” or “matcounts,” was just another way that established a sense of intimacy between his band and us.
One last highlight of the night was when Kearney actually brought a WCU student named Charlie on-stage with him and his band and allowed the student to play the cajÃ³n, a box drum that the drummer sits on.
Kearney’s concert was an extreme success because he went above and beyond to connect with his fans. Kearney took us on a journey. Kearney made us experience all different types of emotions simultaneously. But most importantly, Kearney made us forget, for an hour and half, that we were starting a new semester. For this night, we were simply there to have a good time, and to “let go/let flow.” This night would truly stick with all of us for the rest of lives.