Tyler Childers’ road to relevancy was that of frustration, persistence, and humility. It’s tough to imagine that such a remarkable, perceptible talent would ever go unnoticed, but before the release of his critically acclaimed breakout album Purgatory in 2017, Childers was a nobody in the country music community. There’s arguably no better example of that social invisibility than his performance of “Shake the Frost” live at West Virginia’s 2011 Huntington Music and Arts Festival. 6 years before the release of Purgatory, this performance acted as Childers’ promotional tour for his 2011 debut Bottles & Bibles. Just like that album, the audience’s reaction to Childers’ performance is an genuine enigma of pure apathy.
This abnormally trimmed and dapper version of Childers is difficult to recognize compared to his current scraggly self, but chisel away at his prim exterior and you’ll find he’s still the same vocally gifted raconteur at his core. At the ripe age of 19 year old, Childers was wise beyond his years. He was already talking about his past like it was another lifetime, formulating how he could amend his former relationship to fit his current, desperate reality. He closes his eyes as if to remove the crowd from existence so that he can talk directly to the woman in contention, letting her know that he shouldn’t have cashed in his high hopes in exchange for each other’s loving company.
The young man’s voice could stop a freight train in its tracks, yet blurry, indistinct bystanders stroll past the stage as if Childers didn’t exist. Stagehands walk behind Childers to set up and tune instruments for the next band before he’s even done playing. Aside form a few faint claps at the conclusion of the song, no one gives a damn what Childers has to offer. The budding and hopeful Childers clearly possesses all the talent in the world, but this song’s concept of enlightened hindsight coincides well with this moment in his career. The song and performance is an omen of the impending struggle that Childers will have to endure to earn his keep over a half-decade later.