Last night (March 7), Chris Stapleton treated the 2022 Academy of Country Music Awards audience to a devastating rendition of his 2020 track Watch You Burn, which was penned as an open letter to the gunman who opened fire on music fans at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival.
The incident resulted in the death of 60 people, and remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Stapleton’s track, written in response to the tragedy, was released as part of his 2020 record, Starting Over.
For the ferocious performance, Stapleton paired his commanding, gravelly vocals with Squier’s Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster – an oddball offset with a certified cult following that has become one of the most valuable Squiers of all time.
The meaty low end of the 30”-scale electric guitar – which had its low string tuned down – proved a fitting canvas for Stapleton’s stomping verse passages, rumbling rolling licks and pounding chord progressions.
After some silky improvisation and a tasty hammer-on/pull-off heavy interlude, Stapleton went to town on his fretboard, channeling the poignant emotions of the track – anger, revenge, frustration – into some frantic right-hand flurries and off-the-cuff, descending left-hand slides.
It looked as though Stapleton, who was nominated for five awards last night, had kept his Squier in factory condition, too: those single-coils are the original Duncan Designed pickups that perked players' attention when the guitar first arrived in 2014.
You can check out Stapleton’s performance – and the Squier baritone guitar in action – in the video above.
The 57th Annual ACM Awards turned out to be a pretty guitar-heavy affair. Elsewhere on the bill, Brothers Osborne took to the stage on two separate occasions: once to perform Skeletons, lifted from their most recent album of the same name, and another to play These Boots Are Made For Walking with Brittney Spencer.
Maren Morris, who performed with John Mayer at the 2021 Grammys, also donned her Gibson acoustic guitar for a rendition of her recent single, Circles Around This Town.
In terms of awards, Stapleton scooped Male Artist of the Year, while Brothers Osborne were anointed Duo of the Year. The Female Artist of the Year accolade, meanwhile, went to Carly Pearce, before Lainey Wilson picked up Song of the Year for her effort, Things a Man Oughta Know.