Nashville star Eric Church must be on top of the world right now. Church, the come-from-behind guy who was once dropped by Rascal Flatts during a tour, set records for audience totals on May 25 at Nissan Stadium in the city famous for country and now country pop.
Defying critics’ predictions, Church managed to deflect a lot of criticism leveled at him after a Rolling Stone piece featured some of the singer’s political pronouncements less than one year ago.
On Saturday Church not only drew a record 56,521 fans to the concert stop on his Double Down tour, he pulled off an even more impressive feat. The Tennessean had a story that says a lot about Church’s stamina:
“Taking stage without an opening act, Church played a monster set under the Nissan Stadium lights, spinning 37 songs in roughly three-and-a-half hours, not including intermission.”
In July, 2018 social media roared with controversy after publication of an interview with Church in Rolling Stone. If you’re like me, as long as political differences are stated respectfully, I don’t care what your politics are as long as you don’t make me pay to hear them, as at a concert. I come to hear music, not dogma clothed in sanctimony.
Everyone’s not like that. I read the Rolling Stone piece, and felt the header was more clickbait than substance. At least one major country music site agreed with me.
Saving Country Music, analyzing the Church interview, summed up my own perspective:
“Though he did answer certain questions taking certain political stances, including some that would traditionally be considered left-leaning, the characterization of the headlines was clear and categorical click-bait. In fact quantifying all of Church’s comments, he would probably come across as more conservative, if you had to categorize him one way or the other.”
Many of us don’t fit into single issue groups, choosing to keep an open mind on different issues.
It’s ironic that Church broke the Nashville stadium’s previous attendance record. That record had been set by pop artist Taylor Swift set in 2018. Church has a bit of personal history with Swift, recounted in an article at Taste of Country:
“In 2006, when Church was fired from a Rascal Flatts tour for repeatedly defying their rules for opening acts, the group chose a young artist named Taylor Swift to replace Church on the tour. Swift called Church shortly after she landed the tour. “I joked with her, ‘This is your crowd; they’re going to love you. You’re going to owe me your first gold record,'” Church told the Arizona Daily Star in 2011. “I was kidding, but when she got her first gold record she gave me one. It came with a note: ‘Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it, Taylor.’”
Church’s Double Down tour ends in Sacramento in November, with no dates scheduled for my home state of Florida.
Unlike some politically aggressive artists, Church managed to overcome the brouhaha popping off after the Rolling Stone interview, in part because he was honest about his opinions and refrained from attacking those who might disagree with him. All those predictions about the interview hurting his fan base were, like so many political polls these days, just flat wrong.
Regular posts about his doings and tour are featured on Church’s Facebook page.
(Kay B. Day/May 28, 2019)