It’s not just any day that Eugene, Oregon welcomes home a local musician who has charted consistent national success, and Mat Kearney’s sold out concert at the McDonald Theater, promoting his album Young Love, definitely lived up to the hype.
Mat is a Eugene native, and although he is now a well known singer/songwriter, he grew up listening to A Tribe Called Quest and was into graffiti while attending South Eugene High School.
Mat was best known as a soccer player; he attended Chico State on an athletic scholarship, and it was in college that he began developing his talented as a songwriter.
Playing with a full band, Saturday’s set felt like a welcome home party for a long lost friend. Before the show Mat Tweeted, “Tonight I play my hometown Eugene, OR. Already feeling excited-nervous-humbled-pumped-overwhelmed.”
Midway through his set, he gave a shout out to the area high schools, everyone that was born at Sacred Heart hospital, and the University of Oregon’s football team. He razzed Junction City for having a population of four. He brought a drummer up from the audience to accompany him for a song, and then spent the majority of a following number running through the crowd.
Eugene’s hometown flavor makes for quite a diverse bunch–including amped up high schoolers, college kids who skimmed food money to help them afford their ticket, 30 somethings, 40 somethings, 50 somethings, and pretty ladies who could not hide their love for Kearney.
The abundance of girls in nice dresses with high heels and men in button down shirts with shiny shoes made it apparent that it was date night, and McDonald Theater was filled with people either on a date or wishing they were on one with the man on stage.
In my Bo Jackson t-shirt, I stood out like a Lakers fan at the Rose Garden.
The kids were packed up front and the adults were standing in the back or sitting up in the balcony. Kearney gave those in the balcony a dose of the business when he said he wasn’t sure if they arrived super early or super late, but either way they had no excuse for sitting down at a concert.
Thankfully no one started crying.
The bar was open downstairs, but they weren’t selling beer upstairs like they normally do–making for a very sober crowd.
This was not the concert for drunken shenanigans.
Mat’s encore featured the two singles from Young Love, Ships in the Night and Hey Mama. Mat lingered on stage for quite a while before making his exit. This was a special night for him.