Mitchell Tenpenny wows Tuscaloosa crowd

CW / Jake Arthur

Annabelle Blomeley, Staff Reporter

Druid City Music Hall hosted country singer Mitchell Tenpenny last Saturday night to a sold-out crowd. After the opening band, Seaforth, finished playing, Tenpenny performed his biggest hits to an energetic Tuscaloosa audience.

The line outside of Druid City Music Hall curved around the corner of the building a full hour before Mitchell Tenpenny’s show began. Dozens of fans leaned against the walls of the building, itching to get into the venue. 

Tenpenny, a country music singer and songwriter from Nashville, sold out the venue hours prior to the show. Since his first album in 2015, Tenpenny has been consistent in the country music scene, making Billboard’s top 10 and even being nominated for a CMT Country Music Award. 

“It was a quick, very exciting moment, but then it was back to the grind,” Tenpenny said. “I think that’s what this industry lends itself to. You have got to keep looking forward. We’ve got to find ways to celebrate the big things, and we forget about that sometimes, so that was amazing. Then, back to the grind. But still to this day, I’m looking for the next one. We’re hungry for it.”

Hundreds of fans danced and sang along to Tenpenny’s songs while talking, laughing and drinking as blue and white lights flashed across the venue.

Taylor Dunn, a graduate student studying exercise science, said that his favorite Mitchell Tenpenny song is “Alcohol You Later.”

“He’s relatively new to my radar, but I really like his music,” Dunn said. “It’s very creative and catchy, and I thoroughly enjoy his music. I’m excited to see him live.”

While on stage, Tenpenny was energetic and cheerful, interacting with his band and fans throughout his setlist.

“I just love playing live,” Tenpenny said. “I love playing with my family and my band and playing live music. It’s always been so much fun, and I think when you hear people singing back your song, that’s everything in the world. That’s so much fun to do and it’s kind of what fuels you to keep going.”

Both the opening act and Tenpenny himself gave several nods to Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama during their sets, including yelling “Roll Tide!” to an energetic crowd who screamed “Roll Tide!” right back.

Jordan Lienhart, a sophomore majoring in interior design, said her favorite song of Tenpenny’s is “Goner.” 

“It’s different,” Lienhart said. “It’s different from top-40 country. He doesn’t have the snap tracks kind of sound.”

In between the opening act and Tenpenny’s performance, several fans near the stage started chanting “Mitchell!” in a bid for him to come out sooner. While it’s unsure if Tenpenny heard this or if it made him come out quicker, it did result in several laughs and smiles from everyone around them.

“His music is very catchy and different, not necessarily status-quo country,” Dunn said. “He adds a nice little modern flavor to it, and I just enjoy his work.”

Tenpenny’s music connected to many different types of fans at the show, from friends singing and laughing together to couples dancing to his songs. Tenpenny said that his biggest inspirations are the people around him.

“I’m inspired by music,” Tenpenny said. “I’m inspired by my peers, by everybody. It changes every day. If I hear a new song, then that’s my new inspiration. If I see a new artist that I’m loving, then that’s my inspiration. I think you have to feed off everything that’s happening around you. That’s kind of what I do.”

Tenpenny, who holds a degree in music business, said that he doesn’t feel like his major gave him many advantages in the music industry. 

“I think the only way you learn anything is by being in it,” Tenpenny said. “I did learn contracts, which I think is very important. If I would say [if I learned] anything in school about the music industry, it’s learning how to protect yourself when you’re making deals. It’s very important. Everything else is going to come with networking and being there and meeting people. When you actually can know some of the scary words to look for in a contract, I think that’s one of the things I had an advantage on. But I think we all go into it on an even playing field.”

Tenpenny had lots of advice for aspiring musicians.

“Just work hard, be prepared to hear ‘no’ a lot of times, have tough skin and just believe in yourself and keep doing it,” Tenpenny said. “Do it your way, and make the world believe that. Be a good person, be kind and go have fun with it.”