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ISU Lights Up For Hunter Hayes

If you have ever been inside Braden Auditorium in the Bone Student Center, you have seen how massive it truly is. For those of you who have yet to witness it, it is bigger than you think. Trust me! When I entered the auditorium, I couldn’t help but look up in awe; the auditorium was filled to the top with excited fans of all ages. At one point in the night, it was practically glowing from all the lights of various technologies. At this point you may be asking yourself who was there that made all this happen and it is with great pleasure (and a little fan-girling) that I get to tell you all about him, and by him I mean Mr. Hunter Hayes.

            Before I get into that, I have to give credit where it’s due to another individual who helped make the night all that it was: Ryan Lafferty. Although this event is actually Lafferty’s second at Illinois State (he was the opening act for Dan and Shay’s performance this past spring!), he didn’t let that stop him from making an even bigger impact Saturday night. His energy on stage took everyone’s breath away except his own. After performing some songs of his debut EP The Half Of It (my favorite being Thief!), Lafferty surprised the audience by covering some well-known hits including The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face”, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”, Omi’s “Cheerleader” (featuring an ISU student on the trumpet!) and the infamous R Kelly jam “Ignition”. With an incredible set list, his undying energy, and phenomenal vocal range, Lafferty definitely took ISU by storm with his pure talent. He left the audience bouncing off the walls just in time for the next storm that was about to hit: Hunter Hayes’ performance.

            Just by opening with his hit song “Tattoo”, Hayes’ made his mark on ISU. Followed up by one of his other major hits “Storm Warning” and a few new songs off his recently debuted “The 21 Project”, Hayes’ had the audience literally jumping along with him and his five-member band. He even took the time to introduce each band member individually to the audience. The chemistry on stage is undeniable but it was with these personalized and heartfelt introductions that Hayes’ revealed the incredible bond that exists between all of them. He even went as far as to let us all in on a joke between them regarding a collection of water bottles Hayes’ was expected to drink in between songs (one of which Hayes’ chugged to the beat of the audience cheering “Chug it!”). After this little bit of goofing around and a duet with Lafferty for the performance of “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”, Hayes took the audience down a different path with a few slower songs, one of which was hit “Wanted”. During this, he traveled a little off stage, high-fiving and serenading screaming fans in the outskirts of the pit and front rows. At one point, he even angled the mic for some fans to sing for him for the whole auditorium to hear! It was through these actions, a beautiful array of songs (including other hits “Light Me Up”, “21”, “I Want Crazy”, etc.), his powerful voice and his relaxed yet focused demeanor that Hayes left the audience cheering for more when his set was finished. After quickly realizing that we would not stop until he graced us with his presence one more time, Hayes and his band came out for an encore.

            At this point of the night, I felt like it couldn’t get any better. Yet throughout the concert, Hayes continued to surprise me multiple times. While singing one of his songs during the encore, he flubbed up the words and immediately turned it into a joke, continuing to sing the song with words that expressed this mishap. He then took the time to thank the audience for being supportive of him and his dreams. After the encore wrapped up and many began to exit the auditorium, Hayes stayed out and shaking many fans’ hands, taking selfies, and signing autographs. Through these little yet significant actions, Hayes taught everyone in the audience something I feel is very important in this day and age: celebrities are people too, not some larger than life characters that are “perfect” all the time. He showed us all that life is full of unexpected moments but that it is not those moments that define us, but how we handle them. So, how did I handle leaving the auditorium after a show that practically left me speechless (literally and metaphorically)? By smiling, and saying, “Thank you Hunter Hayes.”


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Chloe Kasper

Illinois State

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