Just hours before his sold-out Neurolux performance, the talented country singer-songwriter played an abbreviated solo acoustic set inside Idaho’s premier independent record store.
The first thing I noticed about Hayes is just how easily he could fit into any crowd. His persona and physical appearance isn’t flashy, or overly “artisty”, he just looks like a typical dude you might see around downtown on a Saturday afternoon. The second observation is that he is pretty damned laidback – and funny. This was clearly not his first time performing and speaking in front of people, and he immediately thanked the 200 or so folks packed into “your really cool record store” to check him out on a beautiful afternoon.
He then mentioned that he was ashamed to admit he hadn’t prepared a setlist and asked the staff to bring him a copy of his new record What It Is. They quickly obliged and he used the track list on the back as a guide throughout the seven song set which consisted exclusively of tracks from that terrific album. While it would have been nice to hear some of his older gems, he was here to move product, and those lucky enough to catch his concert that evening surely saw a much more diverse set.
His third number, “Jesus and Elvis”, came with a brief back story: the song is about a dive bar in Austin (his former home) that he used to frequent. The owner’s son went off to fight in Vietnam in December 1968, but before he did his Mom told him that the Christmas lights at the bar would remain hanging up and turned on until he came home. He never did, and so those lights (and all of the other things he loved) are still up to this day, and the jukebox features no music newer than ’68.
Before starting his catchy and uncharacteristically goofy take on self-righteous people (“Wild Pointy Finger”), Hayes showed us the new dance he had come up with. The Pointy Finger, as he calls it, basically involves dancing around while pointing your finger at anyone around, including yourself. After only a couple folks indulged him during that song, he commented “that’s all right, it’s not really catching on like I had hoped”.
His final two songs (“I Will Stay” and “What It Is”) are perfect examples of the man’s strong songwriting sensibility and a powerful end to a short but strong appearance. I was not the only person there who was totally bummed to be without a ticket for his concert, but at least I had a good excuse: when his show was announced I realized that I was supposed to be in Portland that weekend, so I didn’t get a ticket. Then, of course, the Portland plans fell through. So, thanks Hayes for showing up and giving us losers and procrastinators a taste of the goodness. And well done Boise for recognizing talent and supporting a little-known but terrific artist.
Times Like These
Jesus and Elvis
Things You Don’t Wanna Know
Wild Pointy Finger
I Will Stay
What It Is
Spotify setlist playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/1217400912/playlist/7qqCWRTVjAcT7Kn0iQrgRp?si=REKSB4OLTs6lBV7UsiwjrQ