Tyler Childers and 49 Winchester Bring High-Energy Heartfelt Performances to Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena

Last night (April 16) Tyler Childers brought his Mule Pull Tour to East Tennessee with a stop in Knoxville. Childers brought Virginia-based country-rockers 49 Winchester along to warm up the crowd at the Thompson-Boling at Food City Center.

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The Thompson-Boling Arena seats just over 21,000 people for concerts and other special events. Nearly every one of those seats was full last night. The pit area directly in front of the stage was similarly packed. Fans from all over the local area bought tickets to show their support. Additionally, concertgoers flew in from Detroit, Ohio, and other areas of the country after tickets for closer events sold out. During his set, Childers spoke about the importance of the fellowship that comes from sharing live music. Last night, the crowd was—to borrow a phrase from countless preachers—of one mind and one accord.

49 Winchester Heats Things Up

Ticketholders were still filing in when 49 Winchester kicked off their abbreviated opening set. One has to pity those who missed such an electrifying act. The band played to the fans in the crowd, tossing out favorites like “Hays, Kansas,” “Russell County Line,” “Damn Darlin’,” and “Everlasting Lover.” The band also played a few tracks from their upcoming album Leavin’ This Holler including the lead-off track “Yearnin’ for You.”

Overall, 49 Winchester is an air-tight band that brings enough energy to power a small city to the stage. Whether their opening or headlining, they’re an act to seek out and see live as soon as humanly possible.

Tyler Childers and the Food Stamps Leave It All on the Stage

Even longtime Childers fans walked away from last night’s show knowing something new about him and the band. He is undeniably a country artist. However, the Food Stamps aren’t a country band. They’re one of the best jam bands on the road today and they proved that time and again.

They injected extended solos into several songs throughout the night. Then, they cut loose for two instrumental jams that felt improvised and brought cheers and applause from 20,000 or so excited fans. In short, the Food Stamps are fantastic.

The screens behind the stage that featured psychedelic kaleidoscope scenes, melting landscapes, and generally trippy animations drove home the jam band aesthetic. But, make no mistake, it was a country show.

After all, Tyler was without a doubt the star of the show. If there was any question if he sounds as good live as he does on his recordings, last night answered that question. That answer, by the way, was a resounding “Hell yes.”

During his last tour, many concertgoers complained that Childers had stopped playing some of his biggest hits. Songs like “Feathered Indians,” “Lady May,” “All Your’n,” and “Whitehouse Road” were conspicuously absent from his setlist. That’s not the case on the Mule Pull Tour. He played all of those old standbys except for “Feathered Indians” in Knoxville.

Highlights of the Evening

Several moments throughout the night felt special. For instance, it was one of the members of the band’s birthday. So, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and someone brought him a cake from which he ate a bite of icing before returning to his keyboard. Later in the night, Childers spoke about his sobriety, fighting back tears as he told the crowd that time was the first thing he got back when he put the bottle down. However, the real highlights of the night came when seemingly everyone in the arena came together as one.

Early in the set, they played “In Your Love.” Childers sparked controversy with the song’s video. However, the crowd cheering at the opening notes and singing every word back to him proved that the outrage surrounding it is overblown.

Midway through the set, Childers sent the band to take a break while he pulled up a chair and played some old favorites—“Lady May,” “Nose on the Grindstone, and “Follow You to Virgie”—solo. Each of those songs featured guest vocals from thousands of teary-eyed fans.

Tyler Childers Mule Pull ’24 Set List

  • Percheron Mules
  • Tulsa Turnaround (Kenny Rogers cover)
  • Born Again
  • Redneck Romeo
  • In Your Love
  • Help Me Make It Through the Night (Kris Kristofferson cover)
  • All Your’n > Purgatory
  • Country Squire
  • Bus Route
  • Shake the Frost
  • Lady may (solo)
  • Nose on the Grindstone (solo)
  • Follow You to Virgie (solo)
  • Old Country Church
  • Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven
  • Instrumental Jam
  • Whitehouse Road
  • Jam Session
  • Honky Tonk Flame
  • Way of the Triune God
  • House Fire
  • Universal Sound
  • Heart You’ve Been Tending

There are still plenty of dates left on Tyler Childers’ Mule Pull ’24 Tour. Get tickets while they last.

Featured image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach

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