As part of The Tribune’s coverage of the 2012 California Mid-State Fair, we’re running a series of concert reviews. Below, Tribune writer Cynthia Lambert shares her impressions from a July 18 concert by country music’s Eric Church.
Halfway into his set, rising county music artist Eric Church paused between songs and faced the boot-clad,beer-holding, Wrangler-wearing crowd at the Mid-State Fair.
“You guys ready to party tonight?” he yelled.
Church made a special, long-distance trip out to California to perform at the fair’s opening night last Wednesday. Not many other bands would make the trek, he said, for just one show.
His would — and would make it worth the effort.
“I’m going to do my damndest to kick your ass,” he hollered. “You give it back to me and we’re going to have a party on a Wednesday night.”
Church’s music blurs the line between country and rock. In doing so, he joins the ranks of other country bands which have been influenced by a number of different genres and incorporated them into their music (see: Cross Canadian Ragweed, now Cody Canada &The Departed).
In a recent interview with The Village Voice, Church talked about the influence Metallica, AC/DC, and even rap has had on him. He was also asked about working with country superstar Toby Keith.
“You get a lot of artists out there who you don’t really know where they are or where they stand,” Church told The Voice, “Toby’s always been a guy who you know where he is, and by and large I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. We’ve never shied away musically, or from telling you what we think. And I think that’s needed.”
Church performed before a packed crowd at the fair’s Chumash Grandstand Arena, where Visalia-based country band Chaparral warmed up the crowd. (If you were lucky enough to catch Reckless Kelly play at The Ranch in San Miguel in February or Shooter Jennings perform at SLO Brew last May, then you’ve seen Chaparral.)
Before Church took the stage, Chaparral lead singer Martina Otterbeck asked the audience if it was ready.
“Eric said he wasn’t going to comeout tonight unless there was a crowd,” she shouted.
Wearing his trademark black baseball cap and sunglasses, Church ran through his hits, including “Country Music Jesus,” “Guys like Me,” “Hell on the Heart,” and “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag,” the latter a tribute to Merle Haggard.
Fans held their beer cups aloft when he sang, “Drink in my Hand,” and waived their cell phones (in lieu of lighters) during “Springsteen.” He also dedicated his “Jack Daniels” song “to all the bad decisions we really should make tonight.”
During “These Boots,” Church motioned to an audience member, who handed him a boot. He signed it and gave it back.
“I know it’s the first night (of the fair),”Church yelled at one point. “But we’re going to burn this son-of-a-bitch down.”
Mid-State Fair photo: Brittany App
No related posts.