NEW YORK — Grammy-nominated country star Hunter Hayes just dropped his new album, Encore, on Tuesday and celebrated the release in the best way possible — with his beloved Hayniacs. Fans lined up around the block and wore their “I Love Hunter” T-shirts for the “I Want Crazy” singer, who performed a two-hour set at Webster Hall as part of MTV’s Artist to Watch LIVE series. From fan art winners to Twitter questions AND a performance of almost the entire Encore album, fans went, well, crazy.
To kick things off, Hayes performed four acoustic songs, including “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” to screaming fans in the smaller studio part of the New York City venue before returning for his headlining set in the main ballroom. “I just felt like I wasn’t done with this chapter,” Hayes said in regards to Encore, which is the deluxe re-release of his self-titled 2011 album. “It’s special to celebrate with a show.”
The 21-year-old hand-picked openers Ashley Monroe and Striking Matches, both up-and-coming Nashville, Tennessee, country artists. Monroe and Hayes will be reunited again for CMT’s Let’s Be Crazy Tour in Knoxville, Tennessee, this October.
Something that shouldn’t surprise Hayes on the fall tour is the overwhelming support of his fans. In between songs at Webster Hall, Hayes always made sure to reply to the hordes of girls yelling, “I love you Hunter!” by saying, “Well, I love you too!” Though he may seem all calm, cool and collected onstage, Hayes admitted during the Twitter Q&A session with MTV’s Christina Garibaldi that he still gets nervous from time to time.
“[It's] so special you don’t want to mess it up,” he explained when talking about some pivotal moments in his life like meeting icon Stevie Wonder. Even if he gets the jitters every now and then, it’s not extremely evident because Hayes commands the stage while in front of his elated fans. “It’s so good to see all of you guys tonight. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
No, Hunter, it really doesn’t.