Droves of fans headed to New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on Friday Night to support singer-songwriter HARDY on his first ever headlining tour, SiriusXM Presents: The Highway Finds Tour. The rising artist brought along his buddy and fellow singer-songwriter, Hunter Phelps and newly signed, Sean Stemaly to perform for the sold-out crowd.
Tasked with warming up the already packed out venue, Stemaly took the stage first. The up and coming artist quickly got the crowd fired up, playing both party songs and creative love songs. His setlist included fan-favorite, “Back on a Backroad” and “Last Night All Day,” a brand new song that was released the same day.
Independent artist and hit songwriter, Hunter Phelps took the stage next. The singer-songwriter played a mix of his own songs and songs he has written for other artists throughout this forty-five-minute set, engaging the audience the whole way through. His set included “You Don’t Want Me,” and his brand new song “Take Me to Heaven,” which he wrote with none other than the headliner, HARDY.
Fans showed their appreciation for each and every one of Phelps’ own songs, but the energy in the room was unparalleled when he sang his hits as a songwriter. Beginning with what he humbly shared as his “first top ten hit,” as a songwriter, the singer showed off his vocals on his acoustic version of Florida Georiga Line’s “Talk You Out of It,” and Chase Rice’s new single “Lonely If You Are,” which Phelps’ penned. Quickly before singing the smash hit, “I Don’t Know About You,” which he penned for Chris Lane, he shared with fans that on his birthday, “We had the number one song in the country for the first time.” Phelps’ exciting set culminated with his break-out song, “Breakup Sex,” which of course fans knew every word to.
When HARDY finally took the stage, the crowd in Manhattan went wild. Fans were ready to sing along to each and every song, chanting ‘HARDY” multiple times throughout the night. The singer exploded on to the stage with upbeat songs “Boy From The South” and “All She Left Was Me.” Afterward, he took a second to humbly introduce himself, even though no introduction was needed. “First of all my name is HARDY. I grew up in a little town called Philadelphia, Mississippi. I moved to Nashville when I was 19 years old. For a long time, I was a songwriter, before I started singing my own songs, I was writing songs for other people,” adding, “I am very blessed to say I am a hit songwriter at this point in my career.”
Sure enough, he went on to sing the number one song, recorded by Blake Shelton, “God’s Country,” transitioning smoothly into another song off arguably one of the best albums of 2019, Hixtape Vol. 1, “Nothing Out Here.” HARDY kept the party going, singing both “Something a Lil’ Stronger” and “He Went to Jared” also off the new record.
Since Hixtape Vol. 1 is all about getting a little help from your friends, HARDY made sure to bring both Stemaly and Phelps back to the stage for some epic duets. Stemaly lent his voice to “Y’all Boys,” a song written by HARDY and cut by the boys of Florida Georgia Line, while Phelps performed two songs with the headliner. Calling Phelps one of his best friends and telling the audience how the two “came up together,” in the industry, HARDY and Phelps are no stranger to collaborations, having penned many songs together, including “My Kinda Livin’,” which they performed, and FGL’s, “Colorado.”
About half-way through the set, HARDY slowed it down a bit, dedicating “Signed Sober You,” off his EP WHERE TO FIND ME, to fans going through a break-up “To anyone who got in a cab and felt lonely, and they got home, and they did not write a note to themselves out of it [contacting an ex]”, leading the whole crowd in a toast. In a rare moment, HARDY showcased his vulnerable side in the exquisite performance of the track.
Throughout the night, fans surprised even HARDY with how well they knew a deep cut of Hixtape, “One Beer.” He performed an acoustic version of the song that originally featured both Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson, just after “Signed, Sober You.” Fans screamed the song as loud as they could, rendering HARDY speechless, as he pointed the mic towards the audience. It was one of the most raw, impactful, and electrifying moments of the entire impressive set.
HARDY made sure to sing his heartfelt “This Ole Boy” and “I’ll Quit Loving You,” too before accelerating into the metal-inspired tune, “Turn You Down.” Of course, he shouted out his good buddy and fellow country singer, Morgan Wallen on this track, but also when he sang Wallen’s song that he co-wrote, the number one track, “Up Down”. After signing a few more songs like “No Place Like Hometown” and “4X4,” HARDY and his band exited the stage, only to come back with an explosive encore.
“I want to say thank you so much to you guys for coming out, seriously. I want to say this, I put this song out one year ago to the day. This is the only time ever in history that I will ever be able to say that and it’s in New York City at the Gramercy Theatre. So, with that being said, let’s pay homage to that, by singing ‘happy birthday’ figuratively, not literally to the most redneck song ever in county freaking music,” he screamed, before ending the night on a high note with “Rednecker.”
By the time HARDY ended his energetic and dynamic set, it was safe to say that we were in the presence of a superstar in the making. He left each and every fan in awe of his talent, and we cannot wait to see how he continues to evolve as both a songwriter and an artist.
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