Eric Church Breaks Own Bridgestone Arena Record Again, Wraps Holdin’ My Own Tour

Eric Church. Photo: Anthony D’Angio

When MusicRow’s Robert K. Oermann says, “An Eric Church show is a must-see event,” there’s no turning down a ticket.

Such was the case on Friday, May 26, for the penultimate date with 18,996 attendees for Church’s Holdin’ My Own Tour which reclaimed Church’s Bridgestone Arena attendance record from Bon Jovi, who had outsold Church’s 2015 date by 103 tickets. Church then outdid himself again for Nashville’s final, tour-ending date on Saturday, May 27, to the tune of 19,020 attendees. All this despite canceling over 2,000 tickets for the shows previously listed on the secondary market, in the name of protecting fan access from scalpers.

“It’s been a hell of a tour,” said Church backstage after UMG Nashville President, Cindy Mabe, prefaced the show as one of the biggest shows you will see this year. “Forty songs from now…[the tour] will be over.

“It’s bitter-sweet for me because I’ve never had more fun than I have the past five weeks,” continued Church on his 360° stage. “Every night I tell the crowd this band and I promise to give everything we have. I think its safe to say we’re gonna give you more than everything we have over these two nights. There have been a lot of shows here but you’ll never see one like tonight.”

Sentiments aside, the outlaw rocker had the audience on their feet the whole, three hour evening. In his signature aviator glasses, The Chief occasionally flipped the bird as an exclamation point to some of his most riling and well-written titles, seeming to egg on fans, some of which were wearing “Eric F*ckin’ Church” T-shirts. All this after Church took the stage behind a audio recording play of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” which felt like pre-confessional, centering pledge for the angsty crowd.

Then things kicked off. For Mr. Misunderstood‘s “Mistress Named Music,” Church’s opening number escalated to unveil a full choir from East Nashville Magnet High School in addition to the suspended black and white video cube Church would be illuminated to contrast the mesmerizing evening.

Blazing through pulsing power anthems—complete with billowing smoke from the sides of the stage—audience was treated to what have become signature titles for Church, all projected with  provoking camera work on the cube.

“Eric Church fans know the words to even every album cut,” endorsed Oermann. And they did. Many of those titles turnt the crowd without the aid of radio success, including “That’s Damn Rock & Roll,” “Mistress Named Music,” and “Knives Of New Orleans.”

His Appalachian twang remained, especially on early titles performed, including “How ‘Bout You” and “Drink In My Hand, to more current hits “The Outsiders” and the phenomenal “Talladega.”

“I moved to town 16 years ago, playing a lot of clubs and small places,” said Church, attributing his success to word of mouth from an original 20 fans in any given tour stop. “Every night we played as if there were 50,000 people in front of us. It was never about how many, it was always about the music and the heart.”

With that heart and passion, the men were just as ignited with enthusiasm as women, who—if they weren’t there by their own accord—looked to be enjoying themselves just as much by proxy.

The banjo roll on “Cold One” was not the only title to pay homage to the past. Continuing the tradition, Church covered of Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed,” Ben Harper’s “Steal My Kisses” and lyrics “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” before a Merle Haggard photo was projected.

Simple concert lights danced through the crowds, punctuating performance perfectly. The black and white video cube was thoughtfully accentuated with red projection on “Round Here Buzz,” perhaps a reflection of the isolation of a late night, small town stoplight. A deafening cheer came from “Wrecking Ball,” which many fans documented on their phone cameras.

And this was all before the intermission.

There was no opening act. Church went on after 8:30 p.m., and played until after midnight. During the break, fans were able to refill their 20 oz beers before Church “Turn[ed] This Bitch Up” for a post-intermission set including the outstanding “Record Year” and “Homeboy,” “Kill A Word” “Jack Daniels,” Mixed Drinks About Feelings” and “Creepin’.”

In all, Church played 39 songs during his two sets with the sold-out crowd standing the entire show, raising their glasses—and boots—when prompted. At one point, Church stopped to gather vinyls and magazines from fans before taking out a Sharpie to signing each for fans.

The fans deafening cheer again came after “Give Me Back My Hometown” and Church wrapped with “Springsteen.”

He may be seen as a country outsider, but Church is a bonafide Entertainer. With a  delivery on par with Garth Brooks, no catwalks or gimmicks were needed for Church to show he has nothing to prove—comfortable in his stardom—and yet he still has the numbers prove it. Pollstar deemed the tour the world’s No. 1 most-attended music tour for 2017, with over 900,000 fans at 62 shows since January. Until his trophy comes, echoes of his Church Choir seem to certainly be reward enough.

Eric Church with his signature Hummingbird Dark Gibson Guitar during his two-night Holdin’ My Own Tour finale in Nashville. Photo: Anthony D’Angelo


Performing aside, Church is ever a business baron. For the third year opened his pop-up store in East Nashville (address: 218 South 11th Street), a block from his management’s office.

Lines were out the door on Saturday for rare items specific to the Holdin’ My Own Tour (including a chance at a pair of tickets to that evening’s show) with exclusive merchandise, such as the debut a never-before-seen design of his These Boots by Lucchese, a custom Orion Cooler and vintage tour T-shirts and posters. A portion of the proceeds benefitted Church and his wife Katherine’s non-profit Chief Cares foundation that serves more than 2.5 million people around the globe with charitable giving.

The store will open again Thursday, June 8, through Sunday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during CMA Fest. Those fans in town can catch The Chief at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium Friday, June 9 at 10 p.m.

Additionally, Church has announced eight more shows in 2017.

Eric Church 2017 Concert Dates

June 23 — Cadott, WI at Country Fest
Sept. 2-3 —Stateline, NV at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys**
Sept 7 — Austin, TX at Austin 360 Amphitheater***
Sept. 8 — Houston, TX at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion***
Sept. 15 — Tuscaloosa, AL at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater*
Sept. 16 — Orange Beach, AL at The Wharf Amphitheater*
Sept. 21-22 — Gilford, NH at Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion***
Sept. 29 — Las Vegas, NV at Route 91 Festival+
*With special guests Brothers Osborne and Ashley McBryde
**Margo Price opening
***Special guests announced soon

Additional support announcement and on sale information coming soon.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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