Eric Church brings Double Down tour to Pittsburgh for 2 nights
Few artists have the popularity, fan demand and stamina to do what Eric Church is doing: performing two consecutive shows at a big venue in big city.
Country stars — Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan and Toby Keith — have given Pittsburgh two or more consecutive concerts at giant, packed venues in the past two decades or so.
Now, Church is performing at PPG Paints Arena two nights in a row, starting on May 3 — his 42nd birthday. Brooks also celebrated his Feb. 7 birthday at the same venue at a Pittsburgh show in 2015.
It takes a special kind of artist to have the kind of ticket demand that supports back-to-back shows in big cities, says Jeremy Mulder, a disc jockey for the Froggy country radio stations.
“Pittsburgh is such a hotbed for country music, it doesn’t surprise me at all when a major artist like Eric Church wants to spend his birthday in Pittsburgh.”
Church — known for hits including “Desperate Man,” “Springsteen” and “Drink in My Hand” — is performing back-to-back shows in numerous cities on his Double Down tour, which kicked off in Omaha in January.
“Eric Church is a star of our country music format,” says Mulder, whose on-air moniker is “Danger Frog.”
“He brings a country-rock feel, and his fan base is very die-hard,” he says. “He’s about the songs and the music and the message. His fans love him. I’m a huge Eric Church fan.
“He’s just put out so many great songs that people relate to,” says Mulder, who has done Froggy’s Danger Show for 17 years.
Church, a North Carolina native who calls his fan club the Church Choir, is known for unconventional, surprise-filled concerts playing three-hour sets with no opener and changing his setlist from show to show. People attending the Friday and Saturday concerts won’t see the exact same shows.
In a review of the inaugural Double Down tour show in Omaha, Rolling Stone wrote that in a 33-song set, Church gave an energetic performance full of loose, funky, spontaneous explorations and radio hits from his six albums. Church “pounds his chest and shakes his fists at just the right moments — and downs airplane bottles of Jack Daniel’s proffered by fans,” the article states.
Another Rolling Stone article says that lighting is a key component of Church’s tour. He doesn’t do any pyrotechnics these days, but Church has an impressive stage set built around three tiers of video screens that move and shift to form half of a Borg cube. Flashing red lights accompany “Desperate Man,” and green lights bathe the stage during “Smoke a Little Smoke,” the article says. But Church is full of surprises and changes from show to show, so who knows if he will repeat these effects?
During his first five years with Capitol Nashville, the Top 10 eluded Church, who released his debut album, “Sinners Like Me,” in 2006. But in 2009, with the album “Carolina,” he started getting good radio airplay with “Love Your Love the Most.” The “Chief” album from 2011 included the megahit “Springsteen.” Church’s last three albums were “The Outsiders” in 2014, “Mr. Misunderstood” in 2015 and “Desperate Man” in 2018.
Church was unavailable for interviews.