Hunter Hayes plays Cosmic Charlie’s in surprise performance

By Ella Wilkie

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Not everyone can say they spent their birthday at a concert but, then again, not many performers get the opportunity to perform an impromptu concert on their birthday, either.

Country music star Hunter Hayes visited Cosmic Charlie’s in Lexington on Wednesday night to record a live concert for Country Music Television’s series “Instant Jam.”

Hayes celebrated his 24th birthday with about 250 UK fans singing along to his songs and wishing him a happy birthday throughout the night.

Admission was distributed via free, first-come first-serve wristbands, which were made available Wednesday afternoon at Sorority Circle. Hayes tweeted the time and location an hour before fans were to receive the wristbands and many showed up early.

“I got there at like 11 and they didn’t start handing them out until 11:30,” said Bailey Thomas, a business management sophomore.

CMT scouted various campus locations and chose Sorority Circle as the place to distribute the wristbands because they wanted to find somewhere with enough space to accommodate the crowd.

The Circle proved to have enough space to “coordinate all the lines that were going to form,” said Heather Allison, CMT’s manager of corporate communications.

The Instant Jam series consists of an hour-long special containing interviews of the artists and live footage from small, intimate performances.

Allison said the spontaneous performances Instant Jam promotes are for the purpose of creating a more intimate connection between the artist and the fans.

“We like to bring big stars to small venues,” said Leslie Fram, the Senior Vice President of Music and Talent at CMT. “I feel like it brings stars back to their roots.”

Fram said Cosmic Charlie’s was one of the smallest venues an artist has performed in for the series.

CMT chose to hold the video shoot in Lexington because Hayes will be performing Thursday in Rupp Arena as he continues his 21 Tour.

“We like to choose artists who are currently on tour or promoting something,” Fram said.

The spontaneity of the Instant Jam performances can be traced back to months of strategic planning and secret cooperation among each individual involved.

“The rollout for each show and the concept behind the series is that we are doing surprise pop-up shows with superstar artists that are revealed the day they are happening,” Allison said.

Though some media coverage of the actual performance began a few days ago after Hayes tweeted about the event, advertising will become more prevalent in preparation for the premiere of the Instant Jam show on Sept. 26.

“It’s all leading up to the premiere of the show,” Allison said.

Hayes performed several crowd favorites throughout the night. He also incorporated a few songs and covers that he will not be performing at Thursday’s concert.

Carley Clymer, a nursing sophomore, has been a dedicated fan of Hayes’ for years.

“I’ve been a fan of Hunter’s since the beginning,” Clymer said. “This concert is a dream come true.”

The intimate atmosphere allowed the musician to interact with the crowd on a personal level, including taking selfies with fans and bonding with another birthday member present at the venue.

“I’m going to his concert tomorrow,” said food science sophomore Claire Boudwin. “But I love the closeness of this compared to a big stadium performance.”

Hayes ended his performance with his single, “Crazy,” not leaving the stage before he thanked his audience for a crazy night and an even crazier birthday.