Tyler Childers & Ona Play Thalia Hall

On Sunday, October 21, Tyler Childers’ performed his first headlining tour at Thalia Hall with ONA as the opener. As an ex-country music concert goer, I was looking forward to a night of nostalgia, but it turned out to be more than that. 

From the moment I walked into one of my favorite venues in Chicago, Thalia Hall, the atmosphere was lively, happy, and excited. I arrived shortly after the opening band started. I started my night off on the floor with the diverse crowd that reminded me of the unique fusion of different genres of music that makes up the sound of Tyler Childers.ONA, the opening indie-rock band, is made up of five longtime friends from Huntington, West Virginia including keyboardist Brad Goodall , Bradley Jenkins as lead vocals and guitarist, bassist Zach Johnston, drummer Max Nolte, and guitarist Zach Owens. 

They brought such a huge crowd to the show that they could have been mistaken for the headlining act. The band’s energy poured out into the crowd, most who were singing along to every song. As ONA announced that they have a few songs left, they also added that they will be back to play in Chicago soon, but didn’t say when. For their last song, they played their song “Forever Young,” which was a personal and crowd favorite. After their last song, the crowd kept chanting “One more song! One more Song!” Despite the fan’s efforts, ONA didn’t do an encore, and ended around 8:50pm.

As the crowd waited for Tyler Childers to come on, many ordered drinks, food, and moved around. The majority of the crowd was already there for the opener, but some attendees were entering around this time was well.

Childers, is a 27 year old singer/songwriter from Lawrence County, Kentucky. His music is a fusion of bluegrass, country, and folk music with a little bit of rock thrown in the mix. Childers writes all his lyrics, and his lyrics tell a story. His unique sound earned him the award as Emerging Artist of the Year at September’s Americana Honors & Awards. 

Around 9:15, Tyler Childers and his band of four other members took the stage. After Tyler introduced himself to the crowd and they cheered, he said that he “wished that he would always get that kind of applause everytime he said his name.” Childers’ and the band started the night off with upbeat country song, “Whitehouse Road”,from his first debut LP, Purgatory. One of my favorite songs that really showed the fusion of folk, bluegrass, and country that make up his sound was his second song of the night, “Deadman’s Curve”, which you can find on the album, “Live on Red Barn Radio I & II”. The combination of Tyler’s voice and the instruments, especially the violin, gave the song the unique sound.

In the middle of his performance, Childers paused to share a story about when he performed in Circleville, Ohio . Childers’ and his band were given some ‘gummies’ and visited the Circleville Public library where they indulged in more of the candy. By the time they took to the stage, Childers’ said that he couldn’t remember the lyrics to the songs that he wrote. During that show, he looked back at his drummer, Rodney Alkins, and asked “Hey man, you wanna play something?” and he handed Rodney his guitar, and for about 25 minutes he played the song “Country Gold” while Childers tried to get himself together. He continued by saying that earlier when they were at the library, he wrote a song called “Country Squire,” which he then transitioned into playing. 

Tyler Childers and his band played a mixture of upbeat songs about being in the country and sweet, slow, love songs. He also debuted a new song, “Every Loving Hand”, about being away from your significant other and being lonely while trying to stay faithful to them. After playing 18 songs, he ended with the 19th song on a slow note. It was only Tyler and the violin player on stage, and they played Childers’ song “Lady May,” which is named after his wife, Senora May. It was a beautiful way to end the night. As Childers’ thanked the crowd for coming and walked off stage around 11pm, the crowd and myself were cheering for an encore, but unfortunately wasn’t indulged in as he had with the aforementioned gummie

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