By Jason Henry
June 8, 2018
The bleary-eyed Kentucky poet / outlaw country artist Tyler Childers rolled into Charlotte on Wednesday night right off the heels of a guest spot on Austin City Limits with the legendary singer-songwriter John Prine the night before. Childers is touring behind his heavily-praised album Purgatory which is co-produced by the inimitable Sturgill Simpson. He was working off little sleep Wednesday night and acknowledged missing his first scheduled flight to Charlotte from Austin due to an overzealous night of post-ACL celebration. Nonetheless, he was ready to impress.
To say the Charlotte crowd was ready for his arrival is an understatement. This was Childers third performance in Charlotte in the last nine months, but the sold-out show (which now seems to be the norm across the country) saw the insatiable and rabid fan base lining up and down the block in NoDa nearly two hours prior to the doors opening. They were in a partying spirit and ready to cut loose to some twangy honky-tonk rock but a few would have to be shown the exit early by security for fighting or being too obnoxious It was well into Childers’ encore before the raucous atmosphere subsided and the last skirmish was broken up.
The opening band, Town Mountain, from Asheville, NC set the crowd into a frenzy with their first note. Their brand of bluegrass, country, and old school rock ‘n’ roll seemed to fit hand-in-glove with the headliner. The self-described “hard driving Carolina string band” blazed through a fifty-minute opening set which included an appearance by Childers on their last song of the evening (a track rumored to be co-written by Childers and released on an album this fall).
Childers and his band, the Food Stamps, then took the stage a little after 9 p.m. to everyone’s delight. Childers, in his heavily-worn Grateful Dead t-shirt, dove straight into the yet-to-be-released “Bus Route” before regaling the crowd with one of many stories in between songs. The band’s high energy and Childers’ swagger filled the room as they let it all hang out, but a lot of the anecdotes he told were lost on the audience due to what appeared to be an issue with his muffled microphone. It could have been the result of some mumbling on the part of the Childers, but a full transcript of the stories would be highly prized by those in attendance. Microphone issues aside, Childers and the band burned through tracks off both Bottles and Bibles and Purgatory before jumping into a cover of the Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show cover of “I Got Stoned And I Missed It” and then teasing the crowd with a brief cover of “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer. It would not be their only pop-rock cover of the evening as tracks from Seether and Miley Cyrus would be rolled out before the set was over. The loudest reaction from the crowd was during the performance of the popular “Feathered Indians,” off the album Purgatory, but almost every song had some semblance of a sing-along by the rowdy crowd.
Childers and his band plowed through a few unreleased tracks to the evening’s playlist before ending the set with the Charlie Daniels Band cover of “Trudy,” and then exiting the stage. Childers returned for a solo encore, after finding his way through the curtains, with only his acoustic guitar in hand. Two more rambling but delightful stories followed as Childers closed out the evening with crowd-pleasers “Lady May” and “Follow You to Virgie.” Everyone who stayed until the end may have been worse for wear come morning, but both the band and crowd left everything they had at the venue.
Check out the remaining 2018 tour dates for Tyler Childers.