The first time Kyle Morris sang for a crowd, he was a high school kid at a party.
Backed by liquid courage and his friend Cole Male on guitar, Morris entertained partygoers with impromptu covers of Green Day and Blink-182 songs. It was then, in his “drunken stupor,” that Morris came to a realization.
“For some reason, in that moment, I was like ‘Yo, I love this performing thing,’” Morris recalled. “It kind of clicked.”
The next day, the pair decided to give songwriting a try—and The Unlikely Candidates were born.
Twelve years later, Morris, Male and their bandmates will perform—likely sober—at Whiskey Jacques’ for the Sun Valley Film Festival’s Awards Bash. The party is one of four that will take place over the course of the festival.
The partying will kick off on Thursday, March 19, with the Sorry I Like To Party party at Whiskey Jacques’, featuring local band El Stash. The event is free and open to the public, with complimentary Michelob Ultra Pure Gold beer for certain pass holders.
On Friday, Ketchum’s Main Street will shut down for the outdoor Main Street Salutes a Legend party, featuring a bonfire, food trucks, a DJ and an array of vintage Ford Broncos. Partygoers—who are asked to dress like their favorite movie legend—will have a chance to vote for their favorite Bronco.
“We just hope it’s everything great about Sun Valley,” festival organizer Celeste Matika said. “This is one of the things we hear from people who come to the festival year after year—they just want every party to feel like Sun Valley.”
Later that night, the festivities will continue with the Pioneer Party at Whiskey Jacques’, open only to certain pass holders and featuring the Kris Lager Band.
And on Saturday, the parties wrap up with the pass holders-only Awards Bash, headlined by The Unlikely Candidates with opener Castlecomer. More than a dozen filmmakers and special guests will receive custom film festival belt buckles at the party.
It’s been a long road for The Unlikely Candidates—who now include Morris, Male, guitarist Brenton Carney, drummer Kevin Goddard and bassist Jared Hornbeek—from that high school party in Keller, Texas, to the Sun Valley Film Festival. Along the way, they’ve toured with bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and Fall Out Boy and performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Their song “Novocaine” held the No. 3 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart the last week of February, with its music video having racked up more than 15 million views on YouTube. The band had released a handful of radio singles before “Novocaine,” but none that reached the same level of popularity.
“A song would do well in one or two regions of the country, but we didn’t really have a song that connected every single area,” Morris said. “This song connected all the work and success we’ve had in all the areas.”
The band’s musical style is hard to pin down, ranging from “neo-soul dance songs” to “stuff that’s reminiscent of dark, brooding, ’90s hip-hop tracks,” as Morris describes it. There’s also a bit of Texas influence mixed in, as some of the “psychedelic folk” and blues of the Fort Worth music scene “kind of bled into” their own songwriting.
The Unlikely Candidates are still based out of their Fort Worth home—though these days, Morris said, “We honestly live in a van on the road.” On March 21, that van will bring them to Ketchum.
The band has enjoyed doing “the stadium thing,” Morris said. But they still appreciate a more intimate venue like Whiskey’s.
“They fill out nicely and you get that vibe really packed in there,” Morris said. “It’s nice to have some room to spread out, but we still like clubs.”