3 Times Eric Church Went Rogue and Put Art Over Expectations at Live Shows

Eric Church has built a huge and dedicated fanbase since releasing his debut album Sinners Like Me in 2006. People from all walks of life enjoy cranking up his records. While thankful for his fans, he has not always put their expectations first when his live shows are concerned. Sometimes, he puts his art above the expectations of fans. Once, he even put his love of basketball above playing a show for his fans.

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With CMA Fest in full swing, it seems like the perfect time to look back on three times Church went rogue and did his own thing during concerts. After, two of the biggest examples come from CMA Fest performances.

CMA Fest 2019—Eric Church Plays a 30-Minute Acoustic Medley

Back in 2019, Church was set to play a 30-minute set at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest. Before he took the stage, he sent his band packing. This left him no choice but to perform a solo set. The set was a 17-song medley that took up his entire time slot.

[RELATED: Watch the Acoustic Performance That Eric Church Says Got Him “Kind of Invited to Not Come Back” to CMA Fest]

Some fans loved the performance. However, some weren’t happy about it. In an interview, he revealed that he was “Kind of invited to not come back,” after that show.

CMA Fest 2023—Church Used the Set as a Teaser for His Tour

Eric Church would return to CMA Fest four years later. This time, he came with a full band. In fact, it was a bigger band than usual. He added horn a horn section and extra backup singers to the band. Then, they played a short set of songs with new arrangements. He also didn’t play some of his biggest hits. Fans were not happy.

“I was shocked because I played the show that I went out there to play,” Church told Rolling Stone. “We had a time slot and I went out there to play that slot and try to show a little bit, a peek, as to what I was working on for this tour,” he added. At the time, he was gearing up for the 2023 Outsiders Revival Tour.

[RELATED: Eric Church Reacts to Fan Criticism of His CMA Fest Performance]

“All the songs were different. All the songs were changed. It was punch. I didn’t play ‘Springsteen’ because I have a new version of ‘Springsteen.’ You’ve got to come to a show and see it,” he explained.

Stagecoach 2024—Eric Church Performs Gospel Songs and West Coast Rap

Eric Church’s most recent wild-card decision came at this year’s Stagecoach Festival. He brought out a choir and performed a set made up mostly of gospel songs for the rowdy festival crowds. He also pulled out a cover of “California Love” by Tupac and Dr. Dre and “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg.  So, fans who likely paid thousands of dollars to catch his headlining set decided to go see Nickleback instead.

[RELATED: Eric Church’s Gospel-Inspired Set at Stagecoach Had Fans Going To See Nickelback Instead]

“This was the most difficult set I have ever attempted,” he said in a statement. “I’ve always found that taking it back to where it started, back to chasing who Bob Seger loves, who Springsteen loves, who Willie Nelson loves, you chase it back to the origin,” he added. “It felt good at this moment to go back, take a choir, and do that.”

Honorable Mention – Church Cancels Concert for UNC-Duke Final Four Game

In March 2022, the UNC Tarheels were set to face their rivals, the Duke Blue Devils in a Final-Four matchup. Church, who is a North Carolina native and a lifelong ‘Heels fan didn’t want to miss the game. Unfortunately, he had a concert in San Antonio, Texas that night.

[RELATED: Eric Church Cancels Concert to Attend Basketball Game—“This Is Also the Most Selfish Thing I’ve Ever Asked”]

“As a lifelong Carolina basketball fan, I’ve watched Carolina and Duke battle over the years but to have them matchup for the first time in the history of the NCAA Tournament is any sports enthusiast’s dream,” he said in an email that announced he was canceling the concert so he could go to the game.

Fans who had spent money on tickets, travel, hotels, and more were not happy about the news.

Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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