Songwriter-turned-headliner is touring to support his latest album

“Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!” the sold out crowd at The Fillmore Silver Spring chanted as the lights went dim shortly before 9:30 on Saturday (Feb 25th).
Aptly, the bespectacled Hardy exploded on stage, letting the lyrics to “Sold Out” roar from him and wash over the crowd.

The night was a diverse blend. One part rock. One part metal. One part screamo. And yet it was all, to borrow from a Hardy song title, unapologetically country as hell.

Touring in support of second full length solo album—not counting his Hixtape collabs— The Mockingbird & The Crow (stylized the mockingbird & THE CROW), the set was heavy from the recent release. Also present were songs from Hardy’s 2020 release, A Rock.

The night had songs that were straight country such as “Truck,” as well as those that leaned into his heavier metal predilections like on “Kill Shit Till I Die,” there’s a unifying force in the modern-day rural redneck experience.

The things Hardy are singing about had not, till now, been explored this way by country music. Hunting and fishing were subjects of recreation. For Hardy, they are acts of aggressive catharsis worthy of a Metallica-fueled musical backing. Indeed it is the same for the millions that skip school in early November to catch and post their first kills on Instagram. (Which is something else to which he lyrically nods.)

Yet, Hardy can switch gears and offer a traditional country tune. “Signed Sober You” is a letter from the narrator to his drunk self. It stood out as a thoughtful gem in a night of rave-like partying.

Another show-stopper was the slow-burning “wait in the truck,” which I glowed about after the CMA Awards in November. With this song, Hardy has turned country music 180 degrees back toward gut-wrenching storytelling. The vignette he created on stage during this number was incredibly theatrical. And, it was his best vocal performance of the night.

Hardy has made the leap from hitmaker for other country acts to creating a name for himself with his a sound all his own. This was highlighted in his choice of opener, Jameson Rodgers. Rodgers’ catalog includes several numbers co-written by Hardy, and he joined the headliner to sing the small town anthem, “red.”

The encore kicked off with what has become his signature song and an anthem of personality, “Rednecker.” It will follow him wherever he goes, and he seems to live its words.

Hardy has perhaps the best sense-of-self of any artist working today. He knows what music works for him, a skill that no doubt was gained as a songwriter dolling out music for the others. He all but admits as such with “Radio Song,” a metal-imbued number which trolls the arcane guidelines of terrestrial radio.

I’m staying so authentic, Hardy has gained a fiercely loyal fan base that will pack venues wall to wall, because Hardy “still ain’t sold out.”