Photo: Colleen Callahan, One Nation

Sam Hunt and Maren Morris Go Full Speed for 15 in a 30 Tour

Country fans in the DMV swarmed Jiffy Lube Live on Saturday evening for a show-stopping night of feel-good music from Sam Hunt’s 15 in a 30 tour. Saturday’s concert in Bristow, Virginia was the thirtieth show for the tour, but Sam Hunt, Grammy-nominated Maren Morris, and openers Chris Janson and Ryan Follese performed as if it was their first-ever performance, with hot guitar solos, covers and constant crowd interaction.

The crowd ranged from teenagers to 30 somethings, with some older couples mixed in, but it was clear that age was just a number when the whole audience sang every word to Travis Tritt’s 2000 hit, “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” which Hunt covered. Opener Chris Janson left the crowd feeling pumped up for the rest of the show as he closed his setlist with “Truck Yeah,” Tim McGraw’s hit song that Janson cowrote.

Maren Morris followed the opening act and played an impressive set, including almost every song from her album Hero. The crowd was singing right along to one her more popular songs that’s not a single, “Rich,” and her female fans lost their minds when she sang “Second Wind” mashed up with Beyoncé’s hit “Halo.” Morris is always praising pop and hip-hop artists on social media and in interviews; she even sang “Once” with Alicia Keys at this year’s Grammy Awards, so it’s no surprise that she covered a legendary artist like Beyoncé during her performance.

Her set showcased her fiery, raspy vocals and her relatable, honest lyrics. She was both emotional and amazed when she held the mic out for the audience to sing her most well-known single, “My Church,” at the end of her set.

Jiffy Lube Live has seen tons of headliners pack the amphitheater summer after summer, and Sam Hunt was another to add to that list when he delivered one of the liveliest performances of the year at the classic Northern Virginia venue. He opened with one of his most loved, feel-good songs, “Leave the Night On,” and his high energy carried throughout his whole set. He was running and dancing across the stage and into the crowd, keeping everyone on their feet; he really never stopped moving (except for when he stripped down an acoustic version of “Come Over,” the song he wrote for country superstar Kenny Chesney).

Most people don’t know – unless they’re hardcore fans who’ve followed every step of his booming career – that he’s written several hit songs for other artists in the industry that have gone on to become well-known songs in country music. He played a handful of those songs in the middle of his setlist, including Keith Urban’s “Cop Car,” William Michael Morgan’s “I Met a Girl” and Billy Currington’s “We Are the Night.” Hunt is not afraid to blend genres and draws inspiration from R&B and hip-hop; he even gave the crowd an acoustic cover of R. Kelly’s “Ignition,” making hearts melt all across the amphitheater.

Hunt gave the crowd a glimpse into his personal life, aside from his storytelling song lyrics, by sharing moving anecdotes from his past. His upbeat single that has taken over both country and pop radio this year, “Body Like a Back Road,” was the crowd favorite. Naturally, the amphitheater echoed with booming female voices when he let fans take over the last chorus. You don’t need to be a country music fan to know all the words to his number one song. He covered all the hits from his Montevallo album, closing with “Break Up in a Small Town,” and stayed bold and engaging throughout his performance.

Maren Morris and Sam Hunt’s music pulls on your heart strings, makes you embrace youthfulness and gives you experiences to relate to. There’s always something to root for when these artists take the stage, as they continue to share their personal lives through their self-written, emotionally charged songs.

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Kayla Marsh

Kayla grew up in Falls Church and graduated from JMU in May 2016 with a major in media arts and design. She was an editor for two student-produced publications in addition to studying Spanish, Italian and American Sign Language. She has Harrisonburg's incredible food scene to thank for her beer and food obsessions. You can find her singing in traffic, eating tacos or live tweeting The Bachelor.