Country star Eric Church rocks Gwinnett with 'Outsiders Tour'

By: Katie Morris

Published: December 11, 2014

DULUTH — Country fans began to gather in the parking lot of the Gwinnett Arena around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, tailgating in preparation for The Chief. Tailgaters played games, shared drinks and socialized excitedly about seeing Eric Church’s Outsiders World Tour.

Joshua Clark is a member of Church’s fan club, The Church Choir, and was excited to see Church for the third time.

“He’s amazing live. The most amazing performer I’ve ever seen. He’s actually one of ‘Rolling Stone’s’ Top 50 Artists to See Live. He’s real country because he tells a story with every song,” Clark said.

Clark was attending the show with his girlfriend Kaiti Spratlin and a few of their friends. Spratlin said she really enjoys the atmosphere at country music concerts.

“It’s a true southern atmosphere. People here are friendly and all having a good time together. We all have the common goal of seeing Eric Church,” Spratlin said.

Spratlin said she was hoping to hear Church play “Like a Wrecking Ball” because that is her and Josh’s song.

Church has been a rising star in Nashville over the past nine years, acquiring a reputation for teetering between the lines of multiple genres from country all the way to metal. The 37-year-old North Carolina native’s progressive musical style was certainly reflected in the concert’s line-up.

The show kicked off in pure rock n’ roll fashion with band Halestorm, who have previously toured with Shinedown, Disturbed, Godsmack and many others. The legendary Dwight Yoakam hit the stage next bringing a more country sound to the night. Yoakam wore his iconic cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes and tight blue jeans. Friends Yvonne Rogers and Melissa Mayfield were excited to see Yoakam for the first time.

“I had his first album on tape. He was really rocking those jeans and boots tonight, and he’s still got those moves,” Rogers said. “I really liked hearing him play ‘Little Sister.’”

Eric Church made his entrance like a true rockstar, walking onto stage alone under a spotlight with a packed arena of fans cheering him on. The 360-degree stage was surrounded with fans as Church started the night by playing “The Outsiders” with flashing lights and a drum set flying in from above the stage.

Last night’s concert came on the heels of Church earning four Grammy nominations, including Best Country Album for “The Outsiders,” Best Country Solo performance for “Give Me Back my Hometown,” Best Country Song for “Give Me Back my Hometown,” which was co-written by Luke Laird, and Best Country Duo/ Group Performance featured on Keith Urban’s “Raise ‘Em Up.”