NYC Spills Its Blood, Sweat, & Beer (with the help of Eric Church & Brantley Gilbert)

Eric Church
Blood, Sweat & Beer Tour
Featuring Brantley Gilbert
March 15, 2012
Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

Eric Church brought his rowdy Blood, Sweat & Beer Tour to the concrete jungle of New York City on Wednesday night and his fans were ready to rock.  A long line of hundreds of fans lined the wall of the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street hours before the show.  The City’s weather was unusually warm for mid-March and it all made for an even rowdier and party atmosphere.  There were plaid shirts, cowboy hats, and boots galore …

I had a meet and greet with the opening act and rising country star, Brantley Gilbert.  I had never seen Brantley live, but have been listening to his “Halfway To Heaven” Album since its release.  Brantley was a soft spoken guy when I met him, but he was full of smiles and seemed to really enjoy meeting his fans backstage. 

Once he hit the stage, this soft spoken guy became a dynamic firecracker. 

The speakers exploded with “Boom” by P.O.D. as Brantley and his crew took the stage.  He took the mic and simply stated “let’s raise some hell”.  He ripped into a cover of Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party”, a song in which he actually wrote.  He flawlessly sang the song with passion and energy that rivaled Aldean’s own version.  He changed from song to song quickly without much chatter, but his stage presence, energy, and fist pumping had the crowd enticed throughout. 

After “Hell on Wheels”, he played a few rifts of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” as an intro for his biggest solo song to date: “Country Must Be Country Wide”.  The New York City crowd sang along word for word and Brantley responded by allowing us to sing the chorus at points.  Upon the finish of the bombastic song, the crowd gave him the first of his many standing ovations.  His response was “wow, you guys are bad ass”.

He got another standing ovation after his next song, which was another song he penned for Jason Aldean, the hip-hop/country anthem “Dirt Road Anthem”.  Brantley rapped the verses with perfection and showed great composure with the fast moving song.  He showed more admiration for the crowd as he stated “New York, ya’ll know how to throw down, I am impressed”. 

The rest of his set included his newest single, “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”, which shows a softer side of the rowdy artist, followed by “Hell On An Angel”, “Take It Outside” and “Kick It In the Sticks”.  His last song is as much of a hard rock song as it is country.  He had the crowd fist pumping and bouncing as he pumped the lyrics through the microphone with gusto.  I was extremely impressed by his entire set.  So much so that I can almost guarantee that he is an act with extreme staying power and the potential to be head-lining shows himself in the near future. 

After a long wait, the main act was ready to hit the stage.  My only complaint with the night was the venue itself.  The Hammerstein Ballroom was extremely cramped and overcrowded, so much so that I would almost question whether they sold more tickets that the floor could handle.  But as for the actual performance, country music’s Chief was flawless.  He came out to the rousing “Country Music Jesus” and the show was off and running.

Eric had his typical look: trucker hat, aviator sunglasses, and a black shirt.  It took him a few years to find a look, but he has certainly found one.  Smoke, dry ice, an intense light show, and backdrop changes were all a part of the show, but it was the energy from Eric that really produced the excitement.  He ran through hit after hit, as well as plenty of his non-radio cuts such as “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag”, “Carolina”, “I’m Getting Stoned”, “Jack Daniels”, and “Livin’ Part of Life”. 

No matter the song, hit or album cut, the crowd seemed to know every word.  Eric changed instruments a few times, such as grabbing a banjo for the ferocious “Creeping” and sat down at a piano for the final song of his encore.  He slowed things down towards the end of the set as he sang 3 acoustic songs: “2 Pink Lines”, “Sinners Like Me”, and “I Love Your Love the Most”.  The latter, surprisingly, had the biggest response of the night and Eric allowed NYC to sing most of the song in unison back to him. 

After the acoustic set, he really raised the decibels as he performed his first #1 Billboard song, “Drink In Your Hand”.  Pyrotechnics flashed the stage as everyone raised their glasses along to the party anthem.  He didn’t slow down there as he followed it up with “Lotta Boot Left To Fill”.  Back to back high energy songs had Eric slamming his own chest, throwing middle fingers in the air, and feverishly pumping his fist.

The last two songs of his set before the encore, in my opinion, raised Eric to the A-list artist that he is now considered: “Homeboy” and “Smoke A Little Smoke”.  Each song had its own backdrop and guitar solo’s that perfectly placed to show emphasis on the mega-hits. 

He came back out after a brief absence with a two song encore which began with the heartfelt “Boots”.  The crowd responded with many people taking off their own boots and holding them in the sky.  It was a pretty awesome sight to see (see picture #2 above).  He then sat down at a piano and played the intro to his latest single “Springsteen”. 

The infectious song had most of NYC singing along, while others yelled out “BRUUUUUUCE”.  Eric had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout and the entire show was fast moving, but packed with plenty of material.  Eric has certainly proven that he can headline his own tour as the venue was absolutely packed.  It has been quite a year for Eric and I expect his success to keep growing in the future. 


Brantley Gilbert

  1. My Kinda Party
  2. Hell On Wheels
  3. Country Must Be Country Wide
  4. Dirt Road Anthem
  5. You Don’t Know Her Like I Do
  6. My Kinda Crazy
  7. Hell On An Angel
  8. Take It Outside
  9. Kick It In the Sticks

Eric Church

  1. Country Music Jesus
  2. Guys Like Me
  3. Hell On the Heart
  4. Pledge Allegiance to the Hag (with Pancho & Lefty rifts)
  5. How About You
  6. Carolina
  7. I’m Getting Stoned
  8. Jack Daniels
  9. Living Part of Life
  10. Hungover and Hard Up
  11. Creeping
  12. Keep On
  13. 2 Pink Lines (Acoustic)
  14. Sinners Like Me (Acoustic)
  15. I Love Your Love the Most (Acoustic)
  16. Drink In Your Hand
  17. Lotta Boot Left To Fill
  18. Homeboy
  19. Smoke A Little Smoke
  20. These Boots
  21. Springsteen

Watch The Throne: The Madison Square Garden Edition

Watch the Throne
Jay-Z & Kanye West
Madison Square Garden, NYC
November 8, 2011

The stars were out in New York City at Tuesday Night’s “Watch The Throne” concert at the world famous Madison Square Garden. As I took my seat in Section 107, Row 8, I could see the likes of Beyonce, Neo, Serena Williams, Fat Joe, and more. In fact, Alexandria Ambrosio and three other Victoria’s Secrets models sat down in the seats right next to me! About five minutes before the lights went out, Carmelo Anthony walked onto the floor and got a New York City home crowd standing ovation accompanied with chants of “Melo”. For all of the big names in the Garden that night, no one shined more than the true stars of the show.

The lights went dark at about 9:30 p.m. and it was on.  Kanye appeared on a platform on the right of the arena and Jay-Z came out a few seconds later on a platform to the left.  They were facing each other as they ripped into the egotistical “H.A.M.”, a bonus track off of the “Watch The Throne” album.  Jay-Z was immediately in showman form as he kept yelling to the crowd “What’s Up?”.  After the initial song, the platforms rose into cubes thirty feet off of the ground and transformed into giant shark tanks as they rapped “Who Gon Stop Me”. 

This was one of the highlights of the show and the shark stages are getting a lot of buzz in the world of twitter and facebook.  It really was a sight to behold.  The back and forth interaction across the arena between “Hova” and “Ye” while standing atop these giant cubes was memorable and the two rappers seemed larger than life. 

The cubes descended back into the floor and the two superstars vanished for a few minutes as they made their way to the main stage.  For the next two and half hours the fans were treated to a sing along catalog of Jay-Z’s solo hits, Kanye’s solo hits, the duo’s collaborations over the years, and of course a heavy dose of Throne songs.  The stage set up was unique and featured a plethera of pyrotechnics, giant images on the big screens of the two, as well as a laser light show that was breath-taking. 

As you know from my previous post on this blog, I attended the same concert two nights earlier in New Jersey.  While that show was incredible and had a distinct “wow” factor, this night was extra special.  I have never, in all of the 200 plus concerts I have attended, been part of a crowd that was so energetic. 

 The entire crowd danced, rapped, sang, jumped, swayed, and bounced along with Jay-Z and Kanye West.  And the two of them responded in due fashion.  Kanye was acting like a maniac running sprints, dancing wildly, and giving it his all.  Meanwhile, Jay-Z was as cool as ever, delivering his lyrics clearly and smoothly, and his interaction with the crowd was really what made MSG shake. 

“Empire State of Mind” and “Encore” never sounded so good to me.  It was like Jay-Z thought of those lyrics while standing on stage at the Garden.  He was smiling throughout the show and geniunely looked like he was having the time of his life.  I took a lot of time to just study his facial expressions as well as to look around the arena at all of the people going crazy.  There was a special, special feeling in the air that night and everyone was a part of it. 

Kanye’s wardrobe was as bizarre as ever.  He changed his clothes at least five times that night and made his way through a collection of  Bill Cosby-like sweaters.  All throughout he wore a leather skirt and leather tights.  But he gave extra that night into his performance and for once, I even saw him smile a few times.  He and his big brother clearly have a lot of admiration for each other and that was evident that night as their on stage interaction was flawless and real. 

The setlist was a bit different from the show I saw at the Izod Center as Kanye, to my delight, added in his first single “Through the Wire” and the two sang “Made in America”.  During the latter, they dedicated the song to Heavy D, who had died that same day.  They had everyone take out either a lighter or their cell phone and the entire arena became a spectacle of lights. 

A funny moment was after Jay-Z performed the smash hit, “Big Pimpin”, Kanye stated to the crowd “Jay-Z was my hero growing up and I always wanted to be like him. But every time I would try to live Big Pimpin, I couldn’t because ….” and the speakers broke right into the Jamie Foxx chorus of “Gold Digger”: “she take my money”. You can see the video below of this humorous scripted moment.

The encore was completely different from Sunday night’s show and was a true fan’s delight.  “***** In Paris” was played for the third time and, of course, they did “Encore”.  The whole crowd was chanting “Hova, Hova, Hova” and Jay made sure the crowd also gave love to Kanye.  Then Jay-Z went off script and asked a fan in the crowd what time it was and said “no really, what time is it?  Like the real time”.  He then said that they had fifteen minutes to run through some more hits.  The two broke into some old classics like “Guess Who’s Back”, “Dead Presidents”, “All Falls Down”, “Get Em High”, “Jigga My *****”, and more.  They just kept turning back to the DJ behind him and called out a song that seemed to come off the top of their head. 

Like I said, there was a special feeling in the air on that night.  The two music powerhouses combined at the World’s Greatest Arena to put on one of the best shows I have ever seen.  It was an amazing 50 song setlist, performed flawlessly and with great pride, swagger, and passion.  I have been absolutely blown away by the Watch The Throne Tour and this night was, perhaps, the best of them all. 


  1. H.A.M.
  2. Who Gon Stop Me
  3. Otis
  4. Welcome To the Jungle
  5. Gotta Have It
  6. Where I’m From
  7. Jigga What, Jigga Who
  8. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
  9. Flashing Lights
  10. Jesus Walks
  11. Through the Wire
  12. Diamonds From Sierra Leone Remix
  13. Public Service Announcement
  14. U Don’t Know
  15. Run This Town
  16. Monster
  17. Power
  18. Made In America
  19. New Day
  20. Hard Knock Life
  21. H to the Izzo
  22. Empire State of Mind
  23. Runaway
  24. Heartless
  25. Stronger
  26. On To the Next One
  27. Dirt Off My Shoulder
  28. I Just Wanna Love You
  29. That’s My B****
  30. Good Life
  31. Touch The Sky
  32. All Of The Lights
  33. Big Pimpin’
  34. Gold Digger
  35. 99 Problems
  36. What A Wonderful World
  37. No Church in the Wild
  38. Lift Off
  39. ****** In Paris
  40. ****** In Paris
  41. ****** In Paris
  42. Encore
  43. Jigga My *****
  44. Blow Your Whistle
  45. All Falls Down
  46. Get Em High
  47. Lucifer
  48. Dead Presidents
  49. Guess Who’s Back
  50. Why I Love You


Big Pimpin’ into Gold Digger
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Kanye’s Cube Rise

Made In America

Who Gon’ Stop Me

Dierks Bentley Feels at Home in New York City

Dierks Bentley
Country & Cold Cans Tour
featuring Jerrod Niemann and Eli Young Band
Irving Plaza, New York City
October 21, 2011

Dierks Bentley brought his Country & Cold Cans Tour to the Big Apple for two nights this October.  I was in attendance for the second of the two shows and you could tell he felt right at home.  Last year he had a four night residency in NYC, playing a few different venues while promoting his Bluegrass album “Up on the Ridge”.  I attended two of those shows as well as two of his shows on the Jagermeister Tour, one of which he brought me and my wife up on stage (see ) – so I am very familiar with how Dierks operates.  Tonight was no different, if anything, he took the decible level up one more notch.

Upon arriving at the Iriving Plaza, located in the heart of Union Square NYC, there was a line wrapped in front of the building and around which went on for another three blocks.  It was a quite a site to see so many hyped up country fans dressed in boots, plaid shirts, and trucker hats lined up on the streets of NYC.  The first act on the bill was the Eli Young Band.  I must admit I did not think I knew many of their songs, but once their set was off and running, I was quite familiar with most of their tunes. 

Their lead singer has a great voice and their songs are full of memories from their hometown.  Songs such as “When It Rains”, “Only the Love Songs”, and “Crazy Girl” have had a decent rotation on country radio and were very impressive live.  The band is not flashy, but not at all dull, not down home country, but not hipster – their look was very similar to their music.  I look forward to seeing them again and buying their cd collection as well.

Next up was Jerrod Niemann.  I had purchased Judge Jerrod’s cd the day it came out large in part for his remake hit of “Lover, Lover”, but this was the first time I have been able to see him live.  And he did not disappoint in the least.  He was extremely energetic and dynamic.  The crowd really responded and the New York City venue started to transform into a Nashville Honky-Tonk. 

Jerrod Niemann has a very strange look.  He has long messy hair and wears a very different hat compared to most country singers and he backed by a band mixed with predominately older gentlemen that had people raising their eye-brows.  Nonetheless, people must learn to not judge a book by its cover, because the Judge and his Jury (as he referred to them) could rock. 

He sang many of his songs off his cd including “What Do You Want”, “One More Drinking Song” and “Lover, Lover” and threw in a blues song by Stevie Ray Vaughn “Pride and Joy” and Garth Brooks’ “Good Ride Cowboy”, which Jerrod actually wrote for him.  Jerrod was high energy with a lot of drinking songs and interaction with the crowd.  He was at his best when he had just the microphone in his hand and was up in the front of the stage.  I look for big things from him in the future and really was impressed by his set.

After a brief intermission, the lights went low and the crowd started to scream.  Dierks has created quite a love affair with New York City after his four night stand last year and his double night run this Fall.  Of course, the Will Ferrell impersonator was in attendance (if you attended last year’s shows you know what I am talking about) and I saw a lot of familiar faces from the past NYC shows. 

Dierks hopped on stage and ripped into a new song called “Country Cold Cans” which is a high energy song with a lot of country references (from pick up trucks to trucker hats).  I expect this song will be on his upcoming album which is rumored to have a winter 2012 release. 

Irving Plaza was absolutely jammed packed while Dierks was on stage and people were going crazy during his set.  Dierks has a patented move where jumps straight up and down on stage and the crowd responded by bouncing up and down with him each and every time he hopped.  He brought out his full catalog of hits from “Feel That Fire” to “Every Mile a Memory” to “Sideways” and his energy level was at an all time high.

To my delight, he even sang a few songs off his bluegrass album such as “Up On the Ridge” and “Bottle to the Bottom” and sang a few new songs, entitled “5 1 5 0” and his newest single “Home”.  “Home” is a patriotic song, not in the flag waving way, but more of an ode to America and its natural beauty.  He was very controlled and passionate during this song and the crowd responded with a slew of “U S A” chants upon its finish. 

I have seen a countless number of country music concerts and Dierks is as good of a performer as anyone out there.  He has a natural interaction and energy that gives him a fun-loving vibe.  His career path is a bit confusing because he has the hits and persona to fill arenas, but yet he seems to stick to the mid-sized ballroom type venues.  I would love to see Dierks’ label allow him to embark on an Arena tour, he would have no problem selling well. 

Dierks finished off his encore with his two biggest hits to date “Free and Easy” and “What Was I Thinking” and the crowd applauded him for what seemed like ten minutes.  Dierks was overwhelmed with the applause and bowed with his band multiple times.  The speakers then played “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s and the entire crowd began to jump straight up and down “Dierks-style” and he, of course, responded as you would expect. 

On this night, in New York City, you could tell Dierks felt comfortable as if it was a second Home.  I expect him to keep coming back to the Big Apple as he really seems to have a great time on stage during his shows here.  Dierks, we await your new cd and cannot wait to have you back in the City that never sleeps. 


Jerrod Niemann

1) How Can I Be So Thirsty
2) Down In Mexico
3) Baseball Song
4) Good Ride Cowboy
5) What Do You Want
6) Buckin’ Song
7) Pride & Joy
8) Get What You Deserve
9) Everclear
10) Lover, Lover

Dierks Bentley

1) Country Cold Cans
2) Feel That Fire
3) Am I The Only One (with an extra verse)
4) Every Mile a Memory
5) Tried to Stop Your Leaving
6) Sideways
7) 5 1 5 0
8) Tried To Stop Your Leaving
9) How Am I Doing
10) Up On the Ridge
11) Bottle to the Bottom
12) Home
13) Lot of Leaving Left To Do
14) Come a Little CLoser
15) Wish You Were Here
16) Free and Easy Down the Road I Go
17) What Was I Thinking


Dierks Bentley – “Home”
Dierks Bentley: “Up On The Ridge”

Dierks Bentley – “Am I The Only One”
Jerrod Niemann – “One More Drinking Song”
Dierks Bentley – “What Was I Thinking”

Tim McGraw and Luke Bryan Shine Bright at Mohegan Sun

Emotional Traffic Tour
with Luke Bryan and The Band Perry
Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut

If you are a fan of any genre of music, you have heard of Tim McGraw.  He has countless #1 singles, was the most played artist of the decade, and even did a crossover song with Hip-Hop Star Nelly which was accepted by all radio stations.   He is in movies, commercials, and even has his own cologne.  But for all of those achievements, the thing he does best is perform live. 

On July 23rd, 2011, Tim McGraw brought his Emotional Traffic Tour to Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.  The Tour is named after an upcoming album that he is currently in a legal dispute over with his record label.  The supporting acts on this Tour are The Band Perry and a rising star, Luke Bryan.

I was not able to see The Band Perry perform because I was awarded a meet and greet with Luke Bryan.  I have met Luke many times over the course of his career.  The first time was when he was doing a free acoustic set at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlantic City, NJ back in January of 2008.  He has come quite a long way from free sets at restaurants.  He now has three number 1 singles on the Billboard Country Charts.   He is on his way to a fourth number 1 with “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” which is currently number eight and rising each week. 

As always, Luke was incredibly nice and humble.  He takes the time to take a picture and  give an autograph with each meet and greet pass-holder.  Since I have met him seven times now over the past two and a half years, he recognizes me.   We spoke a bit about his upcoming headling tour which is the “CMT on Tour 2011”.  He said they will be making a stop in New York City which should excite most country fans in that area.

During his set, he utilized the catwalk to perfection.  Usually opening acts are hesitant to use the catwalk at all and stick to the main stage.  However, Luke is not the ordinary opening act.  He came out to “Country Man” and immediately ran all the way down the catwalk which stretched out from the stage all the way to the back of the floor section.  He had everyone in the Arena up and dancing the entire time.  He ran through hits like “Rain Is A Good Thing”, “Do I”, “We Rode In Trucks” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.  A highlight was the macho song “Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets”.  Of course, his newest single (“Country Girl, Shake it For Me”) had everyone shaking and singing along to every word.  He ended the set, as he does with every one of his shows, with a remix of his first single “All My Friends” and Metalica’s “Enter The Sandman”.  Overall, Luke Bryan’s set was one of the best opening acts I have ever seen and had every bit of energy that a headliner would have. 

Tim McGraw would not be outshined this night.  When it was time for his set a giant screen was unvieled and the spotlight quickly shined on the other side of the Arena.  To everyone’s surprise, McGraw appeared walking down the aisle from that opposite side while singing one of his biggest hits, “Something Like That”. 

Tim utilized the catwalk more than any headliner I have every seen.  He wasn’t running around like a Kenny Chesney, but had a slow powerful walk that had every woman in the building scream and every guy admire his “swagger”.  He sang all of his hits from “Where the Green Grass Grows” to “Last Dollar” to “The Cowboy In Me”.  He even threw in some fan favorites like “Do You Want Fries With That” and “Red Ragtop”.  Whatever he decided to sing next was met with cheers, screams, and applause. 

I have seen Tim McGraw five times now and this was not only the best, but it appeared to be the most fun he ever had.  He seemed to give every single person along the catwalk, including myself, a high five.  He was constantly smiling, which is unique for the usually serious McGraw.  It was good to see him like that since I know he is going through that heated legal battle with his Record Company. 

He even surprised the crowd by bringing out The Band Perry for “Can’t Really Be Gone” and Luke Bryan for “Back When”.  Luke and Tim seemed like young teenagers having the time of their lives, singing, laughing and even hugging at points. 

Tim closed out his set with “Real Good Man”.  His encore consisted of  “Live Like You Were Dying”, “Indian Outlaw” and “I Like It, I Love It”.  Full of energy and bravado, Tim McGraw put forth a memorable performance that shows why he is still certainly one of the Kings of Country Music. 

Luke Bryan’s Setlist:

1. Country Man
2. Someone Else Calling You Baby
3. Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets
4. If You Ain’t Here To Party
5. Drunk On You
6. We Rode In Trucks
7. Do I
8. Rain Is A Good Thing
9. Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
10. All My Friends (with “Enter The Sandman”)

Tim McGraw’s Setlist:
1. Something Like That
2. Where The Green Grass Grows
3. Down On The Farm
4. Last Dollar
5. Just To See You Smile
6. Please Remember Me
7. For A Little While
8. Right Back At Ya
9. Red Ragtop
10. Unbroken
11. Sail On
12. Can’t Really Be Gone (with The Band Perry)
13. Back When (with Luke Bryan)
14. Do You Want Fries With That
15. The Cowboy In Me
16. Southern Voice
17. Felt Good On My Lips
18. Real Good Man


19. Live Like You Were Dying
20. Indian Outlaw
21. I Like It, I Love It