Something special happens when you see an opening set from someone destined for greater things. There isn’t a word for it, but you recognize the feeling when it occurs. It’s the point when a hush falls over a room of strangers witnessing an up-and-coming artist performing at their best. Like seeing a shooting star, the uniqueness of the moment is undeniable. There will always be other shows, but for the people in that room on that night, it will always be the night that the artist on stage became someone they knew.
Moroney is new to the country in almost every sense. “Wonder” was released in February 2021, and her debut EP, Pistol Made Of Roses, arrived in July 2022. Without the support of a major label or team, Moroney has found success by taking a largely DIY approach to her rise through the genre hierarchy.
Her songs succeed on the quality of the material and not the promotional push working overtime to make people aware they exist. Any success she has is hers, and it is earned through hard work taking place largely away from the public eye.
For the uninitiated, it’s hard to recommend any one song in Moroney’s catalog more than “Hair Salon.” Co-written by Moroney, alongside Ben Williams and Micah and Mackenzie Carpenter, the track pays tribute to chaotic highs and heartbreaking lows overheard inside a beauty salon. It’s the kind of slice-of-life storytelling that catapulted genre mainstays Kasey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert into stardom, offering relatable moments in time that feel lived rather than made up.
All the people of West Michigan knew of Megan Moroney when she hit the stage was that she stood between them and the evening’s headliner, Chase Matthew. That is a thankless position for any artist, especially one opening for someone with a rabid following. Still, Moroney quickly tamed the rowdy crowd with only an acoustic guitar at her side. A hush fell over the crowd as she made her way through a short catalog of material, along with two covers (including an incredible rendition of “Strawberry Wine”). It started with women, who could be seen ignoring their dates’ attempts to initiate conversation mid-verse, then extended to everyone else. When she finished “He Made Me Do It,” a song about a wronged woman pleading her case to a judge, even the most alpha male in the crowd was paying attention.
“I swear I’m not one of those crazy girls,” laughed Moroney midway through the set. “I just love telling stories.”
None of those stories resonated more with the crowd than “I Love Me,” a recent single with big-time radio potential. The stomp-and-clap track offers an uplifting tale of self-love in the face of heartache. Moroney vows to love herself in the hope she can stop seeking that love and affection from others. She knows her worth, and after her set ended that night, so did West Michigan.
See photos of Megan Moroney’s performance in Grand Rapids below.