Remember that kid who opened for Carrie Underwood six months back?
Well, it was Hunter Hayes, and this time through Billings, he was the headline act, packing MetraPark’s Rimrock Auto Arena on a Sunday night with 7,155 fans.
Hayes seemed as thrilled as the fans, saying several times how the crowd was the best he could have imagined.
“I’ve got to take a second to breathe and take this in,” Hayes told the crowd. “Six months ago, we were here in this stadium with Miss Carrie Underwood and they told us, ‘You’re coming back to play Montana Fair.’ I didn’t believe all you guys would show up.”
The turnout Sunday topped the Saturday night show featuring The Offspring and Chevelle, which brought in 6,049 people. A carnival record was broken Saturday night, though, when fairgoers spent more than $139,000 on the midway.
From the moment Hayes slid across the stage in his white T-shirt, skinny jeans and sneakers, Rimrock Auto Arena was filled with young female voices screaming. He spun and jumped off speakers and other stage equipment throughout his set. At press time, Hayes had been performing almost 90 minutes.
Eryca Seitz and her pals, India Richey and Lindsey Harris, were seated in the first riser up, swaying their arms and shooting photos throughout the show.
“His song ‘Wanted’ – that’s my boyfriend and my favorite song,” Seitz said.
Grade school girls held up signs requesting their favorite songs, including “I Want Crazy” and “Somebody’s Heartbreak.”
“I love you, Hunter,” was the call of the night from the fans.
He repeatedly responded with, “I love you more.”
One of the highlights of Hayes’ set was when he walked to the rear of the stage and sat at the piano to play a song he wrote for the film “Act of Valor.” The tune, “Where We Left Off,” captures the hope that service men and women can pick up their lives where they left off after their military service.
Then Hayes went right into his first No. 1 single, “Wanted,” again accompanying himself on the piano. At 21, Hayes is the youngest solo male act to top the Hot Country Songs Chart and to be nominated in three Grammy Award categories.
Gloriana opened the show with their country-rock sound, nailing their hit, “(Kissed You) Good Night” and running through some interesting cover songs, ending with the Lumineers’ hit, “Ho Hey.”