Country singer Tyler Farr played a brief acoustic show Thursday night at the GE Theatre at Proctors for a small audience. Farr has an album out and a semi-hit, with numerous songwriting credits to his name; hence, he’s considered a rising star.
The Missouri native who now lives in Nashville opened with his song “Chicks, Trucks and Beer,” a clear alert that you were going to hear deep country references. And we heard a few more, like his upcoming single, “Redneck Crazy,” though, despite the references, was a heartfelt, sad song about discovering your lover with another partner.
He had more sensitive country tunes, such as “I Hope I Don’t Live to See that Day,” with the lines like, “when boys stop shaking old men’s hands ... no one stands for the anthem.”
The GE Theater is a personal setting, and Farr used it well during his songs. But you sensed a bit of insecurity about playing in such a small room while “so many of my friends have gotten big.” He name-dropped a lot, talked about record labels, told stories about the road, and described how prevalent he was on social media.
A core group of women in the audience were loyal to his jokes and music and tried keeping the energy high, but Farr asked them for more during and after each song: “let’s hear it from the country girls we got in the house,” “let me hear from the rednecks in the house,” “raise your glasses to this,” “stand up and clap your hands,” and so on. They were doing fine on their own.
He sang his debut single “Hot Mess,” a pop tune he co-wrote with Rhett Akins about, as he said, “I never met a hot girl who wasn’t a hot mess.” With a simple chorus that went, “She’s my hot mess, in a sundress Got my heart beating out of my chest.” (he told us he was friends with Rhett Akins at least five times.)
He played his most familiar song, “Hello Goodbye,” written the day after he discovered his girlfriend with another guy.
Like a lot of current country, his music was mostly straight pop, treated with country twang and lyrical references such as “tricked out tractors,” “moonshine,” “honky tonks,” “trucks,” and so on.
Farr told us he flew up from Nashville, where it was 60 degrees. So he kept his jacket on through the show. Halfway through, he told us he was hot and sweating, but he kept his jacket on, despite pleas from numerous women to take it off.
Thursday night was the opener for WGNA’s Rising Start Country Series. Many big names have come out of this series, and maybe Farr will be one of them, or maybe he will continue to lag behind his peers and simply help write their songs. It can go either way.
The show opened with a very cool, understated version of the national anthem, sung and strummed by local country teen singer Chelsea Cavanaugh, who is working the angles hard, like Farr, to also one day play the big venues.