Show Reviews


Friday June 21, 2024

@ Stage AE in Pittsburgh, PA

(Review Written By: Chad Carlson)

One of the most admirable qualities of country music is the impact it has on the community…Not just for those who listen to it, but for those who write it, sing it, and perform it as well. Walker Hayes, a Mobile, AL native spent the early years of his career grinding his way throughout the writers’ rounds and the latter years playing for thousands of fans on sold-out tours.  The result of the trials and tribulations turned chart-topping success story is a feel-good, party-style concert experience from start to finish, which was on full display at Pittsburgh’s Stage AE on Friday night.

With the decision made to move the show indoors due to the excessive heat in the Pittsburgh area, the show had a bit of a different vibe than maybe what was expected.  But the 44-year-old Hayes was up for the challenge, quickly and easily turning the North Shore venue into a summertime party.

Backed by four dancers, including his 18-year-old daughter Lela, Hayes glided and glazed his way through a 90-minute set that featured all the singer’s biggest hits as well as a few b-cuts that only his oldest and most devout fans would recognize.

Widely-dispersed between causal country concert attendees and Hayes’ ever-growing following, the crowd was universally-entertained by the pop-country crooner’s set from start to finish.  The feel-good vibe of the set headlined by his “just wanna have fun” on-stage demeanor permeated throughout the venue, with everyone taking turns at embarrassingly awesome dance moves and out-of-key singalongs.  Hayes seemed to notice some of the inadequacies of the audience, laughing and playing along with the crowd throughout the evening.

Approaching his mid-40’s and still relatively new to some casual country fans, Hayes commanded the stage with the energy of a budding star. Spanning nearly a decade of his existence in the mainstream, Walker’s set included all the hits and fan favorites from the likes of his ‘Country Stuff’, ‘Boom’, and ‘New Money’ albums. 

Headlined by catchy hooks, phrase turns, and witty lyrics, Walker consistently ignited audience sing-alongs with his “too-cool-for-country” swagger.  Stage AE, outside of a handful of VIP sections, is a general admission audience, and the seats wouldn’t have been needed anyway.  The crowd was jaunting and jiving with the 90-minute dance party on stage with the diehards singing to every song while the masses joined in for the chart-toppers.

Highlights of the night included “90’s Country”, his tribute to the best decade in country music (considered by most), while “AA” brought the laughs and the dances as he crooned his way through his ode of doing better by his children.  Following his lead from the song’s onset, the audience swayed back and forth to the mid-tempo melody. 

Hayes slowed things down a bit halfway through his set with “Beer In The Fridge”, telling the tale of the first few days following his decision to stop drinking, and “if father time had a daughter”, a testament to his children, two of which sang backup for him on the deeply sentimental track.

“Same Drunk” and “Country Stuff” brought the party back, along with “High Heels” (featuring a recording of Flo Rida), “Ya’ll Life”, as well as “Beautiful”.

But two songs, in particular, shined a little brighter than the rest, as expected.  “You Broke Up With Me”, his breakout tune from 2017 which put him on the map to the wider country music mainstream, ignited a roar from the crowd as he glided through the witty lyrics while encouraging audience assistance.

Slowing things down once again to kick off the encore was “Briefcase”, an emotional homage to his late father, which subdued the crowd a bit for a few minutes before being rejuvenated for the biggest three minutes of the night.

Knowing full-well the number one pick for all fans, Hayes waited until the very end of the night to play “Fancy Like”, the song that forever changed his life and made him a household name for fans of all music.  The audience was almost as delighted as he appeared to be, collectively swaying, singing, and smiling before bidding him adieu with a stirring ovation.

Throughout his professional and personal life, Hayes has endured ups and downs, and his rise to mainstream fame over the past few years is well deserved and valued.  Fully embracing the moment and appreciating the opportunity, Walker exonerated his love and passion for his time in the spotlight, and the Pittsburgh audience adored him and the experience on Friday night.



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