Cody Jinks proves he’s the empathetic outlaw at Vegas show

The “Loud and Heavy” singer is wrapping up a busy year with two shows at Park MGM

Cody Jinks has changed the game. Like Chance the Rapper in rap music, Jinks has reached stratospheric heights as an independent country artist. He has cultivated a base strong enough to sell out large venues across the country.

Jinks took the stage in a retro Dolly Parton t-shirt and well-worn cowboy hat for the first of two shows at Dolby Live, the colossal venue inside Park MGM around 9:30 on Friday (Dec 8th). And he did a very daring thing for a show in Las Vegas: he came onstage and just played music. No effects, no fancy screen videos click-track synched. Just a man, a band, and damn good country music.

Jinks has been branded an “outlaw” country artist in the vein of Waylon, Willie, and Merle. And certainly, there are the unapologetic anthems like “Hurt You” and the down-and-out stories such as the one told in “David.” And the long-bearded figure Jinks cuts from behind his sunglasses certainly projects the rebel image. But to call him solely an “outlaw” artist is to disregard the depth of emotion and even vulnerability in his catalog.

Take “I’m Not the Devil.” Would Haggard ever sing, “I slipped and I fell, it got out of hand/But I’m not the devil you think that I am?” Never! Too unmanly. But that’s what makes Jinks so appealing as an artist: he can sing a song with a snarl, and then, moments later look within himself.

His songs run the board from hard southern rockers (“Loud and Heavy”), to more 90’s-country sounding arrangements (“Ain’t a Train”) and even a horse-plodding western melody or two (“Same Kind of Crazy as Me.”)

Jinks also has a genuine and approachable nature. Another strike against that outlaw moniker. At this show, he took pains to deliver a guitar pick to a little girl rocking out in the front row. The crowd cheered when she caught it from behind the barricade.

Another sweet moment: Jinks brought his mother out to sing with him on “Mamma Song,” a tune that addresses the worry every parent has as their kid chases a dream. The crowd loved watching Jinks honor the woman who, it was clear in her eyes, is very proud of who her son has become and the success he’s achieved. Even if she still has motherly worries about him.

Jinks also wowed in a bluesier tone with “Never Alone Always Lonely.” And speaking of blues, 27-year-old Marcus King opened the show with a hair-raising hour-long set. King is—and this is said lovingly—a FREAK of nature. His voice and delivery is so mature, you would think he’s lived much more life than he has. And his ability to play? Put him up against any of the great shredders of the last half-century, and Marcus King would have them in a puddle in a matter of seconds.

Cody Jinks performed two new songs from his soon-to-be-released March 2024 album Change the Game, including the live premiere of “Sober Thing,” as well as the title track. “Changed the Game” tells the story of how exactly he bent country music to his will. In an industry weary to dethrone radio as king, years after rock and pop have moved on, Jinks has burst through without any major label support. The fans found him, and that makes their relationship with him and the music so much more personal.

I know what I’m about to say, I’ve said a few times already. But I feel as though the crop of country artists who will have true longevity from this generation is starting to come into focus. It’s not the bros and the hick-hoppers. The hall of fame careers 20 years from now are the ones that are right now changing country music for the better while upholding musical traditions. And at the top of that list will be Cody Jinks.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is a media producer currently located in Washington, DC. He has worked as a writer, producer, and host in a variety of mediums including television news, podcasting, daytime television, and live entertainment. He joined The Music Universe in 2016. Since then, Bailey has traveled across the country to review hundreds of concerts and interview some of music's biggest hitmakers. Bailey truly believes in the unifying power of experiencing live music. To reach him, please email