At June’s 2017 Taste of Country Music Festival, Kip Moore was supposed to be the three-day fest’s penultimate act. As Sunday night’s second-in-command, the singer-songwriter would play an hour-long set and get the crowd riled up for Sam Hunt‘s festival-closing set.
Unfortunately, Hunt needed to cancel his set due to illness; fortunately, Moore was more than up to the task of headlining. From the minute Moore stepped onstage that night, he captured the attention of the fans packed onto Hunter Mountain; no doubt, Hunt was missed — but you wouldn’t necessarily have known it by looking at that crowd.
Moore burst onto the country music scene with “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck,” his second single, in 2011; both Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line also debuted around the same time. Rhett’s 2017 Home Team Tour, which has him headlining large venues, has received plenty of buzz, and, of course, FGL’s hits quickly catapulted them to headliner status; Moore, meanwhile, has headlined some small-venue tours — his 2013 Burn the Whole World Down Tour, 2014’s CMT on Tour: Up in Smoke trek, the 2015-2016 Wild Ones Tour — in addition to opening big-time tours for Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert and Miranda Lambert, among others … but his live presence remains largely underrated.
Although Moore hasn’t topped the charts as many times as or earned as many radio hits as Rhett, Florida Georgia Line and some of his other peers, he has built himself a similarly fervent fan base. And he certainly has the charisma and talent needed to command arena-sized audiences, even if not everyone notices it yet.
Simply put, Moore puts on one hell of a show. He’s a talented guitar player, and while his music is on the more rock side of country, it also has a soulful, even blues-y, thread running through it; in concert, that’s all amplified. Moore will weave Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” into his own “Hey Pretty Girl;” his cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” is always a crowd-pleaser, and it rocks just as much as the original. He knows how to pace a show, weaving his big hits in with beloved album cuts, moving seamlessly from slow and sultry to fun and funky without losing momentum.
“Our live show has been such a focus for me and the band for many years,” Moore admits. Clearly, putting on a good concert is a passion of Moore’s: “My favorite part of this crazy life we have is playing live,” he says.
Especially impressive is Moore’s desire to give fans a live experience that makes them want to live in the moment, not worry about capturing the moment. He’s known to single out fans glued to their phones while he’s onstage and good-naturedly berate them for it — generally a humorous interaction.
“It’s upsetting that people have lost the ability to live in the moment, and I think it’s only gonna get worse and worse,” Moore says. “Dude, put the phone down and just enjoy what’s going on right now.”
This fall, Moore will play few-thousand-seat venues on his Plead the Fifth Tour. Hopefully, arenas and amphitheaters aren’t far behind.