Concert review: Hardy | 04.27.23, The Pageant (with photo gallery)

Photos of HARDY by Colin Williams and Erica Vining

w/ Jameson Rodgers and Blame My Youth

Wall to wall, The Pageant was certainly “SOLD OUT” well ahead of country rock star HARDY’s show: combat boots and cowboy boots lined the sidewalk with a healthy dose of diversity among attendees present to see the singer-songwriter perform. The artist was accompanied by country star Jameson Rodgers and alternative rock band Blame My Youth on the tour celebrating his most recent album, the mockingbird & THE CROW.

Blame My Youth opened the night with an eight-song set, stopping midway through their third song to come to the aid of an ailing fan in the audience. Vocalist Sean Van Vleet is an Illinois native, hailing from Des Plaines near Chicago, and previously fronted the rock band Empires. Vleet could be found throwing the middle finger up throughout his set (seriously, check out the photo gallery) and playing through hits like “Fantastic” and performing a Misfits cover. The crowd grew steadily through their set, and by the final song there was little room to stand (or breathe). Vleet and Co gave me X Ambassadors vibes, and with his impressive songwriting résumé, I only see the band continuing to go up from here.

Jameson Rodgers followed and, based on the hype for this guy among the crowd, I was intrigued to see his set. One woman in line told me Rodgers would be the “best show of your life,” and while I can’t exactly go that far (Rammstein live takes that award), I’ll admit he was quite an entertainer. Rodgers has collaborated with many big-name country artists, co-writing with bands like Florida Georgia Line and Chris Lane. The band put on an impressive display of artistry with striking harmonies throughout the set and flawless covers of cult hits such as “The Boys are Back in Town” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

HARDY made a dramatic entrance by bursting through billows of fog and vibrant graphics setting the tone for the final act of the night. The headliner ran out to a backing track by Koe Wetzel which had the crowd on their toes wondering if the artist was in the building as well. I overheard one female in the crowd say “I will literally s**t my pants if Koe Wetzel is here”—luckily for her he was not because that does not sound like a fun way to spend your Thursday night.

HARDY spent his set drinking out of a blue solo cup clad in his St. Louis Blues jersey with what appeared to be a skoal can outline in his back pocket. The band played through several of their hit songs while also covering a few that the vocalist wrote for other artists including “More Than My Hometown” by Morgan Wallen and “God’s Country” by Blake Shelton. During the latter song, a US flag could be seen draped over the singers’ shoulders with the night transitioning into some acoustic songs that the crowd joined in for, including “Signed Sober You.” “Radio Song” saw Blame My Youth’s Van Vleet return to join Hardy onstage to belt the rock anthem fraught with screaming, arguably the heaviest track on his recent album. The night ended with title track “the mockingbird & THE CROW,” and the majority of the sold-out crowd was still in the building opting to close the place down over getting out of town before the traffic hit. HARDY is not a band that I expect to slow down anytime soon, and the vocalist solidified his place in the hard rock industry despite being “UNAPOLOGETICALLY COUNTRY AS HELL.” | Erica Vining

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