Eric Church loses Entertainer of the Year vote, then rocks The Anthem


Courtesy of Anthony D'Angio

Alex Cirino

It’s not an everyday occurrence that a country music legend stops by the nation’s capital to deliver an unforgettable performance. An immensely packed line wrapped around The Anthem’s river dock with a sold-out Friday night crowd ready to see “The Chief”, Eric Church, take the stage as his “Double Down” tour had made its way to the District. After three months of anticipation, I knew that the long wait would prove its worth and I’d soon be walking into the concert of a lifetime. 

My friend and I finally made it into the venue at 8:45 after an hour in line. We lucked out and only had to wait about 10 minutes for Church to take the stage. He had just come to DC after performing at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards that Wednesday where much of the crowd believed he wrongfully missed out on winning two major awards, including Entertainer of the Year, which was won by Garth Brooks. As Church took the stage, the crowd made its opinion known, as many audience members in the front section hoisted signs with messages such as “Our EOTY,” displaying a strong disapproval of the results.

Church performed a rather impressive 33 songs that night. With no opening act, it was just Church rocking the stage the whole night. One of his most notable performances was his 2006 hit “How ‘Bout You” which he broke up into two parts. In between, he sang parts of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It this Way” and Ram Jam’s rock song “Black Betty,” two songs that flowed nicely with “How ‘Bout You’s” upbeat tempo. During his cover of Jennings’ song, he changed the lyrics at one point to throw a bit of shade at Garth Brooks after the CMA results. Instead of just singing the song’s title, he rephrased the verse as “I know Garth didn’t do it this way,” which stirred up a positive reaction from the crowd. 

With a good mix of slow and buoyant songs, Church kept the night entertaining, refraining from his usual “halftime” in the middle of the concert. This was a rare occasion where he went through his 30 plus song setlist without stopping and kept the night going. The party continued as Church performed crowd favorite hits such as “Talladega” and of course “Record Year,” where he went around signing every vinyl record of his within sight. Many of Church’s songs provoked the crowd to raise their boots, hats, and/or glasses of beer—which flew around The Anthem nonstop that night. 

The crowd took the verse “A little more right now and a little less what’s next” from the song “Smoke A Little Smoke” to heart and provided a great atmosphere as the party felt like it was never coming to an end.

Prior to performing his biggest hit “Springsteen,” Church left the stage to put on a personalized Washington Nationals jersey with his last name and the number ‘1’ on it, celebrating the Nats’ World Series win. With the crowd’s full attention and awe of his support of The District, the crowd amassed enough energy to enjoy the wonderful ending to his concert. 

Eric Church connected with the audience in a way that I had never seen in any concert I attended in the past. I would definitely spend another night with the “Church Choir” in the near future.