A man in black with a thick, short beard, sporting a dark fedora stares coolly out of the yellow and white posters pasted all over the Utah State University campus. His name is Mat Kearney.
Kearney is a musician who was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. He kickstarted his musical career in Nashville, Tennessee and has since released five albums and 11 extended plays. According to his website, he is a “#1 iTunes artist whose third album, Young Love, debuted at #1 on the Billboard digital chart and #4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.”
Kearney’s musical style is characterized by poetic storytelling lyrics and rap bombast. In an interview with New Release Today, Kearney said while writing his music, he kept asking himself, “’what would it sound like if Paul Simon and Kanye West were in a room together?”
Along with a unique pop sound, Kearney is known for his signature style, always sporting a different kind of hat. In an interview with Mary Colurso, Kearney said, “The hat has become my Superman cape. As a singer-songwriter, you’re trying to stand out and be unique.”
Kearney will be bringing his music, his guitar and his hats to Utah State April 22 as USU celebrates the end of another school year with its annual End of the Year Bash.
The decision to bring in Kearney as the headline performer, was made by the Utah State University Student Association Activities Committee. As the activities director, Emi Facer was heavily involved in the planning process of this annual event.
“This is a conglomeration of effort between our office,” Facer said. “We look for artists that are either up and coming or classic favorites and match them with our budget and see how we can create the best concert possible for a variety of students.”
Facer is a fan of Kearney and was thrilled when he agreed to come and do the show.
“I love Mat Kearney and have for awhile,” Facer said. “It was a dream of mine to have him and the National Parks and Allred come and play. He was available to come and it worked out really well.”
Sarah Burton, a junior studying elementary education, said while she has gone to the End of the Year Bash in the past and enjoyed it, she will not be attending this year.
“I don’t know who Mat Kearney is,” she said. “The previous years I’ve known who the performers are right off the top of my head so I can know whether or not I want to buy a ticket.”
Michael Bishop, a master’s student studying statistics, has other reasons for not attending the event.
“I’ve heard of the end of the year bash, but I’ve never gone,” Bishop said. “It’s just not really for me, I’m just trying to finish classes and then I’ll graduate this semester and head out.”
Chris Phillips, a junior studying chemistry said he is also not likely to attend the concert because his classes are his top priority right now.
“I have finals to study for, it’s just not going to work into my schedule,” he said.
Michelle Stokes, a junior studying dietetics, said she is unfamiliar with Mat Kearney and his music but the local artists and the concert experience motivated her to buy tickets for the event.
“I actually don’t know the Mat guy at all,” she said. “Someone told me one of his songs and I was like ‘I think I’ve heard that but I don’t know!’ But we just saw National Parks at Logan City Limits and we saw John Allred at WhySound and both of them were like, ‘we’re going to be there, we’re opening for the Mat guy,’ so we bought tickets and we’re going to go.”
National Parks and John Allred, two Provo-based bands, will be opening for Mat Kearney. According to the National Parks official site, their first album “Young” released in 2013 climbed to #13 on the singer/songwriter chart. John Allred’s album “Brave New World,” debuted at #4 on iTunes Singer/Songwriter and #6 on Billboard Heatseekers charts, according to his official website
Linzie Hills, a senior studying exercise science, said she is familiar with some of Mat Kearney’s songs and so she planned to buy tickets.
“I’ve heard of him, I don’t know a ton of his songs but the ones I do know, I really like, like the ‘Ships in the Night’ one,” Hills said.
Hills also based her decision to attend on previous positive experiences at the End of the Year Bash.
“I went to see Scotty McCreery my freshman year,” Hill said. “It was really really fun.”
In previous years, the End of Year Bash has featured artists from all across the board, Facer said. The list includes Sean Kingston, Anberlin, Parachute, He is We, Scotty McCreery, Charlie Puth, Nico/Vinz and MKTO.
For those who love concerts, Burton said the End of the Year Bash is a good way to celebrate the end of the school year.
“It’s way fun,” Burton said. “You can have the kind of mosh pit feel in the center if you want, but you can also go to the sides too.”
Facer said there are usually 2,000 to 4,000 students and visitors who come to the event.
“It’s just like any other concert,” Hills said. “Everyone is excited and having fun. A lot of people go so you’re with a bunch of friends and it really adds to the college experience.”
Hills said she plans on going with some friends or roommates and “whoever wants to get a ticket.”
Stokes said she and her friend have already bought tickets together and are excited for the event.
“I love concerts!” Stokes said. “This will be my fifth concert this month and I have two more next week. It’s just a great way to spend your night and the tickets are usually super cheap, it was literally like a dollar, and it’s right at the Spectrum so you can just walk there.”
Stokes said she feels as though the USUSA Activities committee does a great job planning these events.
“They are doing an awesome job,” she said. “They put on a ton of events and I love going to them.”
While Stokes enjoys going to the events, Facer, and the activities committee enjoy planning them.
“It’s something that I love,” Facer said. “I enjoy concerts and planning events for Utah State students, and so it’s the best of both worlds for me. The only difficult thing I would say is coordination between all of the bands to ensure a successful event for the USU student body.”