Home Live Review Live Review: Tyler Childers @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 8/11/23

Live Review: Tyler Childers @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 8/11/23

Live Review: Tyler Childers @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 8/11/23
Tyler Childers spins stories to a sold-out Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug 11, 2023. (Photo by David LaMason)

Tyler Childers has a voice that cuts, and it’s a voice that’s the perfect tool to weave the stories he sings. Songs like “Nose on the Grindstone” — as he sings “Well Daddy, I’ve been tryin’, I just can’t catch a break / There’s too much in this world that I can’t seem to shake” — make you feel that struggle both through the music and that dialogue, whether internal or face-to-face. Truth is truth.

And on Friday night, Childers brought that truth to a sold-out Merriweather Post Pavilion on his Send In The Hounds Tour.

Childers comes from that old country and bluegrass tradition. His songs aren’t out of place sandwiched between The Stanley Brothers or Bill Monroe and Glen Campbell. But like his outlaw country contemporaries Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson (who co-produced his sophomore LP, Purgatory), Tyler Childers doesn’t shy away from hard topics, including police brutality or, most recently, the video for “In Your Love” which illustrates the love, loss, and discrimination felt by gay miners in a mid-20th Century coalmining town.

I think what makes these songs and this music feel so unique is that it bucks the trend of playing to what one thinks others want. Like I said, truth is truth, and it’s both refreshing to hear it sung and a little frustrating not to hear more of it.

Watch the official video for “In Your Love” by Tyler Childers on YouTube:

At Merriweather Post Pavilion on August 11, there was a feeling of anticipation as the place started slowly filling up. Tyler Childers recently announced a new album, Rustin’ in the Rain, which comes out in September — with only “In Your Love” being the only officially announced track. His last album, Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven, was a fantastic invention of songs in different styles with a Hallelujah Version, a Jubilee Version, and a Joyful Version.

The first to the stage at Merriweather was fellow Kentuckian Abby Hamilton, whom I hadn’t seen before and who put on a brilliant set. Following Abby was Drive-By Truckers, who just came off playing the night before at the recently opened, The Atlantis. They proceeded to put on a particularly fiery set. It’s always a pleasure to be able to catch them live.

As Tyler Childers himself told the crowd, “Drive-By Truckers was the soundtrack to my teenage angst. If you would’ve told me, when I was 16, 17 years old, that I’d get to play with Drive-By Truckers, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. You might be. I don’t know, but it’s definitely happenin’.”

With little fanfare, Tyler Childers arrived, waiving to fans and sat down on an old chair. As he grabbed an acoustic guitar and got to work, you could tell this is where his heart is. Kicking off the evening with the aforementioned “Nose on the Grindstone,” Tyler Childers was surrounded by a side table with tea and honey on one side and an old console television (which worked and played old shows during the set) on the other side, decorated like the living room of an old house. Scattered across the stage were stuffed or taxidermized squirrels, an armadillo, and, front and center, a cantankerous-looking opossum.

Watch Tyler Childers perform “Nose on the Grindstone” live for OurVinyl Sessions on YouTube:

After a few more songs, Childers took a moment to pick up a mandolin on the stage. “I wanna take this moment to share… I’ve only played it three times,” he started. He went on to strum the mandolin and sing a song about the act of “flushing out” and, well, eating possum. “They’re really incredible. Actually quite edible. Makes for a fine piece of meat,” he sang to laughs from the audience.

Then it was time for the rest of the band, The Food Stamps, as Childers welcomed them onstage to start on the recent hit, “In Your Love.” The song features some of the best lyric writing of any genre of music, with lines like poetry, “We were never made to run forever / We were just meant to go long enough / To find what we were chasin’ after / I believe I found it here in your love.”

One of the highlights of the evening was a smooth and spirited version of the Hank Williams classic “Old Country Church.” As Tyler took the mic, the rest of the band sounded like we were going to church with an archway of floral designs hovering over the stage.

Although things slowed down a tad with the hit “All Your’n,” Tyler Childers and his band picked up more steam has Childers picked up his fiddle to join two other fiddle players for the traditional instrumental tune, “Cluck Ol’ Hen.” And that honky tonk shuffle of “Country Squire” and “Way of the Triune God” kept this packed crowd moving.  

In lieu of an encore, Childers performed a Cory Branan song, “Sour Mash,” that he had previously dedicated to an old friend who had passed away from cancer. But the song took on an added significance in light of the loss of Branan’s home in Memphis after a devastating storm.

It’s a rare thing to have these opportunities to see artists like Tyler Childers. And they’re opportunities not to miss.

Childers continues his tour through the USA with a special stop at Healing Appalachia in Lewisburg, West Virginia September 21-23rd.

The setlist included:

Nose on the Grindstone
Bottles and Bibles
American Possum
Lady May
Follow You to Virgie

In Your love
Whitehouse Road
Old Country Church (Hank Williams Cover)
Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?
All Your’n
Cluck Ol’ Hen (Traditional)
Country Squire
Honky Tonk Flame
Way of the Triune God
Percheron Mules
Tulsa Turnaround
House Fire
Universal Sound
Sour Mash (Cory Branan Cover)

Here are more photos of Tyler Childers performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion on August 11, 2023. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.

And here are more photos of Drive By Truckers opening for Tyler Childers at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

And here are more photos of Abby Hamilton kicking off the evening at Merriweather Post Pavilion.



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