On Friday morning, country music star Hunter Hayes embarks on a 24-hour, multi-state tour along the U.S.'s northeast corridor. His goal is to break the record for the most live concerts in 24 hours in multiple cities. The 22-year-old, platinum-selling Hayes needs to surpass the eight cities played by The Flaming Lips on June 27-28, 2012. His itinerary sees him playing from New York City to Boston and back.
We spoke with Morgan Wilber and Alex Angert (above, R, with Hunter), the two Guinness World Records adjudicators who will be following Hayes on his quest. They spill on what rules Hayes must follow, their judging strategy, and what they look forward to about living the life of a touring rock star for a day.
Normally, most record attempts only have one adjudicator. Why are there two of you; are you both just huge Hunter Hayes fans?
Morgan: Since the attempt is for a straight 24 hours, the organizers have chosen to have two adjudicators in order to witness the entire duration. I have always enjoyed country music, and while I’ve known who Hunter Hayes is, I hadn’t listened to his music at length. But now that I have listened more, I do really like all of his songs.
Alex: I’ve actually seen Hunter Hayes in concert before as an opening act, but I’m not joining Morgan as an adjudicator because I like his music. It is extremely important for an adjudicator to be alert and focused when judging a record like this, which is 24 hours, so it's best handled with two adjudicators that can take shifts throughout the attempt.
What are the most important rules that Hunter must follow to make sure he breaks this record?
Morgan: The challenge of this record is the multi-city element. The cities must be 31 miles (50 km) or more apart, with at least half of the cities having a population of at least 100,000, and all cities must have a population of more than 15,000. The concerts must be played in a recognized venue with a capacity of at least 300 people. The shows must be advertised and tickets must be available. Hunter must play for a continuous 15 minutes at each show.
Morgan, adjudicating the largest smoothie in 2013
Alex: And I can confirm that we have been in constant talks with Hunter’s team to ensure they are all followed. We were sent a route map and list of venues far in advance and more than half of the venues, such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia, have a population of well over 100,000 people. We’ll also be timing each concert to ensure Hunger plays for the continuous minutes.
What is your strategy or plan to ensure this is properly adjudicated?
Morgan: Luckily, we were able to do a lot of work prior to the attempt, as the route and venues are carefully planned out. We will be travelling on the tour bus accompanying the artist and band, so we can be at each show to ensure the 15 minutes is met and the 24 hour time is being kept.
Alex: Like I mentioned earlier, Morgan and I will be rotating in shifts throughout this attempt to ensure we are well rested and fully focused throughout the 24 hour period. We will be rotating every two concerts and we are working closely with Hunter’s team to ensure the record is carried out as smoothly as possible. Oh yeah, and a pair of earplugs to help us sleep on the tour bus!
What do you foresee being the most difficult part of this record for Hunter?
Morgan: Alex and I are switching off shows, so we have time to rest. But I foresee the challenge in finding time for Hunter to take appropriate rest breaks and making it through the 24 hours!
Alex: I think the hardest part for Hunter is going to be getting in and out of each concert venue without being trampled by a swarm of teenage girls. Every minute is crucial in this record and I’m sure there will be an army of 13-year-old girls, iPhones in hand, to take a selfie with Hunter.
Alex adjudicating the longest human towel chain in March
We know your task first and foremost is to verify that Hunter’s shows follow all the rules, but how great of an experience will it be getting to “live like a rock star” for these 24 hours of concerts?
Morgan: Such a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience! I am not one to get starstruck, so I am most looking forward to seeing how music stars like Hunter travel while out on the road. I can’t wait to travel like a rock star for 24 hours.
Alex: It is going to be bittersweet for me. I have quite the melodious singing voice, as my colleagues might remember from an office holiday karaoke party, and riding like a rockstar for 24 hours will only make me think "what if?" in between concert venues on the tour bus.
Any venue you're most looking forward to on the itinerary?
Morgan: Maybe Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel…can’t beat that name! I’ve also always wanted to go to Providence, so this is my chance!
Alex: I’m excited to see Hunter play at the Stone Pony. Maybe he’ll channel his inner Boss and perform a cover of "Born to Run" or "Glory Days."
What are your thoughts on this record in general? What makes it special and what are you most looking forward to about it?
Morgan: I am a huge live music fan! This record gives the opportunity for musicians to exhibit their musical talent to different audiences in a short time period. It goes beyond just this, though. This record attempt takes meticulous planning and organization. It is extremely difficult and requires all hands on deck to support and help the artist or band make this attempt a reality. It might be exhausting and challenging, but I imagine it brings the whole crew (artist, band, stage crew, managers, etc.) together as a team to become "officially amazing."
Alex: I find it so neat that this record was originally set by a rapper (Jay-Z), then broken by a psychedelic rock band (The Flaming Lips) and now it is being attempted by an up-and-coming country music star. Music is so universal and Guinness World Records monitors hundreds of music-related records. It doesn’t matter what kind of genre you perform if you want to set a record. For all we know, a polka singer might try and break this record next with 12 venues!
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