Mat Kearney performed in the John W. Hart Auditorium Friday, June 2, bringing the joy of live pop music to Rexburg.

Mat Kearney, a singer/songwriter from Oregon, performed in the John W. Hart Auditorium Friday, June 2, bringing the joy of live pop music to Rexburg. According to matkearney.com, Kearney’s third album, “Young Love,” debuted at number one on the Billboard digital chart, and moved the album “Adele 21” out of its number one spot in 2011.

This was his first time performing in Rexburg, and Center Stage initially reached out to him to see if he was willing to perform at BYU-Idaho.

“Mat Kearney was recommended by a BYU-Idaho employee, and a group of students were asked if they would be interested in having him come perform, in which they agreed, so, Mat’s manager was contacted and the concert was booked.”

Mark Daniel

a senior studying communication

Daniel has been a part of Center Stage for about two and a half years, his current title being Marketing Director.

“We’ve promoted the concert all semester long at concerts, on social media and other advertising companies,” Daniel said.

After the time and marketing it took to get the word out, Daniel said he was excited to see Kearney perform.

“I’m most looking forward to jamming out to such great music,” Daniel said. “Mat Kearney is a great guy and great to work with. I’m excited to hear his great music live.”

Set up for the concert started the day before the event, such as preparation with spotlights, set construction and loudspeakers.

“Are they working?” a sound technician called across the auditorium on Thursday afternoon. “Check them again. On the panel, can you swap A and B? I have them backwards over here.”

Sample music was run through the speakers to make sure the sound systems were working correctly, and once everything was good to go, only a later re-check was necessary a couple hours before Kearney’s performance.

“I was turning 19, on a cold December night,” sang Mat Kearney as he started his concert with “Heartbreak Dreamer.” “Burning like kerosene for nearly half of my life.”

Kearney got his audience members involved by taking selfies with the crowd, running through the aisles and giving song lyrics for them to sing along with. He also asked questions to learn more about Rexburg, such as the elevation or BYU-I mascot.

“What’s your school’s mascot?” Kearney asked the audience. “Billy goat? You, in the red shirt, what’s your mascot?”

As students pantomimed horns from their heads, Kearney guessed Vikings as the school mascot.

“At least it’s not the billy goat,” Kearney said. “Vikings eat billy goats.”

Kearney’s unique performance involved holding up a disco ball as the spotlight focused on him, and taking a video selfie with a phone then subsequently handing it to an audience member.

According to Kearney, the band’s bass player, Phil Moore, spent his Friday performing in Rexburg even though it was his birthday. The audience sang the Happy Birthday song to Moore, which added to the uniqueness of the occasion.

As the band continued their show, Kearney added several changes to his songs to make them more personal, including when he stopped singing to change the lyrics of one song in particular..

 

“No no no, hold on,” Kearney said, as he turned to a band member. “You’ve got to start that song in the right key.”

Kearney continued the song as a rap, putting special modifications to mention his love for Rexburg, including the potatoes that come from Idaho. His extensive preparation became clear as the audience cheered and rose to their feet for the duration of the concert

“I’ve been practicing for like 10 years, for this moment, to be right here with you,” Kearney said to the audience.

He ended the concert with “Ships in the Night” before walking off-stage, but when the audience called for an ending encore, Mat Kearney and his band members walked back out and delivered.

According to Kearney, the five members played a new song. At the conclusion, Kearney moved forward to bow with his group, then exited stage-right blowing kisses to the many adoring fans in Rexburg.