It was a stormy Thursday night for the Tyler Childers show at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, with rain falling on and off up until the start of the show.
This was the fourth show on the Send in the Hounds Tour, in support of Childers 3-disc, Billboard top 10 release, Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven? Childers, a Kentucky native, has a sound heavily influenced by his Appalachian bluegrass roots with just enough grit to seem outlaw country. But it’s not really that, so it must be Americana. But not quite. So what genre is Tyler Childers? Does it really matter?
The singer put out his debut album in 2011 when he was just 19 years old. His breakthrough album came in 2017 with Purgatory, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Heat Seeker chart. Later, Childers won the Emerging Artist of the Year in 2018 at the Americana Music & Honors Awards. He addressed the genre issue in his acceptance speech, identifying as a country singer and saying that being classified as an Americana singer "kind of feels like purgatory.”
He solidified that sentiment in 2020 at the Grammy Awards with a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance for his song “All Your’n.” Childers has seemingly been unstoppable ever since and his songwriting continued to evolve. No one at this slightly soggy show at Las Colinas' Toyota Music Factory seemed too concerned with breaking it down; they just came to rock out (country out?) and have a good time.
Kicking the night off were fellow Kentuckians Wayne Graham, a four-piece band, not a person. The openers' excitement for the show was clear as singer Hayden Mills told the crowd,” We’re gonna play as many songs as we can.” That ended up being seven songs that put the crowd in the prefect mood.
The momentum, however, was halted.
There was supposed to be a second opening act, John R. Miller, but Mother Nature had other plans. A slow-moving lighting hung over the venue and caused a delay that wiped out Miller’s set.
In fact, for a few moments it seemed like there would be no show at all. Luckily the storm finally cleared out enough and Childers went on relatively close to on time.
Childers seemed almost somber as he opened the show. His hair and beard were neatly cut. He wore a red satin Two Step Inn jacket from a festival he played a few nights before in Georgetown. The stage had a wild, backwoods nature kind of vibe, complete with critters and a sunset in the forest. He even had the TV that was owned by his Paw-Paw front and center. His band The Food Stamps were in high spirits and as solid as a backing band can be.
No one in the crowd expected him to open with one of his older fan favorites “Whitehouse Road.”
Tyler got sober in 2020 and hasn't often played songs that reference old habits. According to the Tyler Childers Facebook fan page, he hadn’t busted this song out in 1139 days. It was a satisfying start for the fans who had been waiting almost an hour for the weather to clear.
Childers went on to play the next three songs off his latest album, including “Old Country Church,” a Hank Williams honky-tonk classic. Then Childers went into the title track of his latest release “Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?” a song that reveals some of the thought process behind Childers' continuing spiritual quest.
He continued playing songs off his latest release with “Angel Band,” which was the first single released from the album, though Childers has been playing it live for years.
Childers settled in and moved on to other favorites from his catalog and another cover, Willie Nelson’s “Time of the Preacher.”
He then excused his band for what ended up being a shortened acoustic solo set. Childers made it through six acoustic songs before the weather got worse and the hail began to fall, finally ending the night.
What ended up being his last song, “Lady May,” may have been the best unplanned closing song the crowd could have gotten.
Most people in the audience seemed to be devoted fans who knew every song, and the first bar of each new song brought a louder roar as the night went on. The show had almost a going-to-church feel and the full band songs felt like downright gospel. The spiritual themes were evident, and there were times where the crowd had their hands in the air without their cell phones distracting them — just people getting lost in the music they love.
The weather was not a friend to Tyler Childers on Thursday, but he still came through with a powerful and moving show, and countried on.