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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Sam Hunt’s ‘Outskirts Tour’ unites the past and present in Nashville

Sam Hunt took Bridgestone Arena by storm during his “Outskirts Tour,” captivating the audience with every note.
Geetika Komati
Sam Hunt appears on stage, as photographed on March 1, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Geetika Komati)

Whether it’s 2017 or 2024 Sam Hunt’s relevance in the music industry has continued to remain prominent. Sam Hunt was my first-ever country concert in 2017, and I have been a fan ever since. So when I had the opportunity to witness Sam Hunt perform live at the iconic Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, it felt like a full-circle moment, especially as a college student who holds a strong passion for country music. 

Hunt’s “Outskirts Tour” walks audiences through a storyline from his childhood to leaving home at 18 to finding his way in Nashville and discovering a newfound appreciation for his hometown. Hunt, originally hailing from Cedartown, Ga., has carved a niche for himself with his unique blend of country, pop and R&B, amassing over 4 billion streams. His journey from small-town gigs to headlining major festivals like Stagecoach and CMA Fest is a testament to his widespread appeal. Now, on his “Outskirts Tour,” Hunt continues to captivate audiences with his heartfelt storytelling and smooth melodies.

The evening kicked off with an electrifying performance by rising country star Lily Rose, who warmed up the crowd with hits from her latest EP, including the powerful ballad “Villain.” Her raw emotion and energy set the perfect tone for the night.

Rose interacted with both the audience and her band with an energetic stage presence. She ran up and down the stage, stopping at each band member and performing a small dance with each of them. At the end of her set, Rose told the audience to turn on their flashlights, creating a sea of phone lights and setting a dramatic mood. This was followed by her cover of “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean, setting a lively atmosphere with anticipation for the following performances of Brett Young and Sam Hunt.

Following Rose, the audience buzzed with excitement as Brett Young took the stage. Young opened his set against a prominent backdrop of blue lights with his hit “Sleep Without You,” his voice echoing the sentiment, “I can’t sleep without you.”

Throughout the performance, Young’s use of dynamic lighting, including strobe and laser beams, added an extra layer of excitement. His performance showcased his vocal range but also hinted at a slight disconnect with the audience due to his lack of interaction with them. 

However, Young quickly bridged this gap by bringing his personal life onto the stage. He immediately became more comfortable with the audience when he brought his wife and children on stage. The presence of his family revealed a more intimate side of the artist and lifted his nerves. Young’s heartfelt gratitude towards the audience was palpable, especially as he introduced the song he wrote about his wife’s family during a performance of “Lady.” He shared that he performs that song to his daughters, teaching them that he believes his wife is the perfect example of a “How to be a lady.”

Young’s setlist balanced fun, energy and emotional depth while he introduced two of his slower songs leading into powerful renditions of “Mercy” and “Not Yet.” 

“Sad songs are okay. It’s okay to be vulnerable,” Young said.  

His invitation to the audience to slow dance to “In Case You Didn’t Know” was a highlight, creating a sea of swaying couples throughout the stadium. The surprise appearance of Charles Kelly for the final song, “Here Tonight,” added a mellow but enjoyable close to Young’s performance. 

The moment Sam Hunt appeared, the audience erupted in cheers, a testament to his broad appeal and the deep connection he has forged with his fans. Hunt opened the show with “Raised On It,” a song that encapsulates the warmth of returning to one’s roots and the simplicity of small-town life. Hunt had a backdrop montage of his Georgia upbringing to set the scene for a night of nostalgia and appreciation of his roots. It was a fitting beginning that immediately bridged the gap between artist and audience, inviting us into his world. 

Hunt transitioned to his second song “House Party” and then performed “Kinfolks,” against visuals of his hometown, and subsequent songs continued to build on the theme of homecoming and appreciation for his origins. Hunt got onto the floor of the concert and circled the perimeter for the audience to feel closer to them. 

After his fourth song, a floating rustic bridge dropped from the stage, symbolizing a journey back to his roots. Hunt shared a story sitting with his friends from high school on this bridge, reminiscing on their childhood. He shared personal reflections on his growth and the full-circle moment of appreciating his upbringing, enhancing the concert’s intimate feel. He then got onto the bridge and sang “Water Under The Bridge” as the bridge began to float into the air. 

The concert took an emotional turn with the upcoming 10-year celebration of his album “Montevallo” with “Take Your Time,” described by Hunt as the truest and first song he’s ever written. 

“Sometimes you gotta start nowhere,” Hunt said. “This song is where this all started for me.” 

Once again, Hunt migrated to the far side of the stage and sat at a second stage closer to the back of the audience. Hunt began to tell a story about a police encounter with his wife and pointed out his wife in the audience and invited her on stage. He sang a heartfelt rendition of “Cop Car” by sitting down on a chair and singing it without a band. 

He performed a new song, “Walmart,” which is about how he is now able to reflect on his childhood by running into people in his hometown in Walmart and then closed his performance with “Body Like A Back Road” which solidified the night’s theme: a profound appreciation for his roots and the journey of finding oneself. 

“I feel like I have made a big ole circle, and I am starting to feel the pull of home,” Hunt said. “I don’t know if I will end up where I grew up, but I sure as hell appreciate where I grew up more than I did leaving as an 18-year-old.” 

Ending the night on a high note, Hunt expressed his gratitude for Nashville, calling it his “second hometown” and emphasizing the significance of headlining Bridgestone Arena for the first time. Hunt left an indelible mark on his fans with this large yet intimate performance that showcased his power to use his music to connect and reflect on his life journey with an audience. As the show came to a close, Hunt expressed his gratitude to his fans, promising an upcoming album in the future. 

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About the Contributors
Julia Lvovsky
Julia Lvovsky, Staff Writer and Photographer
Julia Lvovsky ('27) is from Rockville, Md., and studies human and organizational development and philosophy in Peabody College. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her going for walks, dancing and studying with friends. You can reach her at [email protected].
Geetika Komati
Geetika Komati, Staff Photographer
Geetika Komati ('26) is majoring in economics and music performance and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Livingston, N.J. Geetika loves photographing sports games and getting in on the live action. Apart from the Hustler, some of Geetika's favorite things are traveling, boxing, and cheering on the New Jersey Devils. She can be reached at [email protected].
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