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.
- My Kinda Party
- Hell On Wheels
- Country Must Be Country Wide
- Dirt Road Anthem
- You Don’t Know Her Like I Do
- My Kinda Crazy
- Hell On An Angel
- Take It Outside
- Kick It In the Sticks
- Country Music Jesus
- Guys Like Me
- Hell On the Heart
- Pledge Allegiance to the Hag (with Pancho & Lefty rifts)
- How About You
- I’m Getting Stoned
- Jack Daniels
- Living Part of Life
- Hungover and Hard Up
- Keep On
- 2 Pink Lines (Acoustic)
- Sinners Like Me (Acoustic)
- I Love Your Love the Most (Acoustic)
- Drink In Your Hand
- Lotta Boot Left To Fill
- Smoke A Little Smoke
- These Boots