#ChurchOnWednesday – An Early Birthday Celebration

Last night was incredible!

A night out that was much needed for Brittany and me. With my birthday quickly approaching, and knowing how much I love Eric Church, Brittany decided to buy us tickets to his concert last night in Ft. Wayne, IN. What a great idea that was! With our work schedules being so different, it’s tough to get any quality time off together. But with a little bit of finesse, we were able to make it happen.

IMG_6570I was like a kid on Christmas Eve the entire night before the concert; I was so excited that I could barely get a wink of shut-eye. But I was finally able to get some rest before the alarm went off at 8:04am.

The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30pm, and with just under a three hour drive to get to Ft. Wayne, we decided to leave the house early enough to get to Ft. Wayne so we could grab a bite to eat before the concert started. We left the house around 11:00am which gave us plenty of time for any traffic conditions as well as that hour time difference (that we both completely forgot about.) But that wasn’t a big deal at all. We still got to Ft. Wayne with a few hours to spare.

Since we got into town so early we decided to go ahead and swing by Olive Garden for some lunch. I’m typically someone who finds something he likes on the menu and that’s what I’ll order every single time. That way I know that I’m going to like the food that I order and I won’t feel like I’m wasting money on food that I didn’t really care for. Anyway, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and forgo the Stuffed Chicken Marsala this time and instead, I ordered the Citrus Chicken Sorrento. Brittany stuck with the tried and true Chicken Alfredo; you can’t really go wrong with that classic dish. I don’t recommend the Citrus Chicken Sorrento for a lunch meal. Once my plate came out I realized that the lunch portion of the meal was actually only half of a chicken breast and some vegetables. It was a “light” lunch like they said; I suppose. But it was pretty tasty nonetheless.

20150318_152320While we were sitting there waiting for our lunch to come out, just before the waitress brought our salad out, we saw a business card on the table. Brittany picked it up, had a little chuckle, then showed it to me. Now, I’m typically one to get things right away; but I’ll admit, this one took me a few extra seconds to finally sink all the way in. Go ahead, click on the picture and take a look for yourself. Then read the manager’s name out loud. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right away, I didn’t either. Say it a few more times out loud. Once you get it, you’ll understand how that’s quite the unfortunate name to have. I’m sure nobody has ever made fun of her at all. Lol!

Brittany and I had a good laugh at the manager’s expense. Brittany a little more so than I. She was like a 12 year old little girl giggling about it. It was cute and funny. But that’s about the time the waitress was bringing our salad and bread sticks out, so we had to compose ourselves a little. We finished our lunch and had some dessert. We both had a slice of the Black Tie Mousse Cake. Which, in hindsight, we probably could have just ordered one slice and shared it. It was delicious and rich!

IMG_6573After lunch, we still had quite a bit of time before the concert started. We planned on heading to the coliseum around 5:30pm so we could get good seats. There was a strip mall right behind Olive Garden, so we decided to do a little shopping. We visited a place called Ollie’s Bargain Outlet; a place that promised blowout prices up to 70% off. Sounds like a great place to score some good deals to me! While we were there we picked up some new grilling utensils since grilling season is quickly approaching. That’s me posing with the new grilling utensils we picked up at a bargain price. Brittany wanted me to pose with them once we found the hard hat. Sadly, we didn’t buy the hard hat. But now I know where to get one at a really good price if I ever need it!

image5After spending some more time driving around, we decided to drive by the coliseum to do a little recon on the parking situation. Eric Church has quite the convoy of trucks when he rolls into town. There were at least 10 semis there with Church’s face all over them. And there were at least that many tour buses. Apparently it takes a lot of people to put on a concert of this caliber. Just seeing the semis and tour buses there in the parking lot was getting me even more excited for the show. It was a little bit before 5:30pm when we decided to see if they would let us park. Once we got into the parking lot we realized that they were not only letting people park, but they were also letting people into the coliseum.

After we parked and got inside, we quickly found the line that we were supposed to be in to gain access to the general admission floor area. Since we were there so early we were pretty close to the front of the line; which was awesome news. The front of the line equaled close to the stage! After waiting for about an hour in a single file line, we were told to bunch up near the entrance. Doing so ultimately put us even closer to the front which meant even better spots on the floor near the stage. We weren’t in line very long before they started letting people in. We got our bracelets, walked out onto the coliseum floor, and found the perfect spot. We were close to the stage and we decided to stand near the right side where the stage jetted out.

After being slighted by not getting to see Dwight Yoakam (who had been opening up for Eric Church), the Drive-By Truckers took the stage. There were apparently only a few people in the crowd who had ever heard of them because looking around while they were performing you could see a lot of blank stares, a lot of people on their cell phones, and several people yawning. I personally had never heard of the Drive-By Truckers and I couldn’t even understand half of the words they were singing. At one point I even questioned whether or not they were singing in English.

Thomas Wayne PruittOnce they were finished with their set, and the stage crew cleaned their gear and set up the gear for Eric and his band, you could feel the energy in the coliseum pick up at that point. Before Church took the stage, we were talking with the people standing near us. We met a young artist named Thomas Wayne Pruitt who was just as big a Church fan as I am. Him and his buddy wanted to brave the crowd that had gathered behind us to go get some beer. They told us that they’d bring us back a couple of beers if we held their spots, so of course we agreed. The only thing better than a cold beer at a concert is a free cold beer at a concert! Thomas’ girlfriend gave us a copy of his CD that we ended up listening to on the way home.

Thomas and his buddy returned with our beers just as promised and it wasn’t long after that when Eric Church took the stage! The moment everyone in attendance had been waiting for all night was finally upon us. Church is one of the few artists that I’ve seen in person who is better in concert than he is on CD. The energy this guy brings to the stage is unmatched by any other performer I’ve ever seen in concert. You can tell this guy pours his heart and soul into every show.

With this being “The Outsiders World Tour,” Church opened the show with his smash hit, ‘The Outsiders’. The crowd was going insane before we could even see him behind all the bright lights that were flooding the stage. Once the lights settled down a bit, and Church walked to the front of the stage, the tone was set for an incredible concert!20150318_210243_022At one point during the show, Church took a moment to let everyone know that since this was the World Tour, he would be playing a little bit from every album he has put out to this point. Songs going all the way back to his album, Sinners Like Me.

20150318_213026_023He most certainly did not disappoint. Like I said earlier, this was by far the best concert I’ve ever been to. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that, as he was walking by on stage, he leaned over and started shaking hands of his fans. Brittany and I had positioned ourselves close enough to the stage to be able to do just that. Church leaned down and shook our hands as he was walking by. And it wasn’t just one of those pansy little hand grabs like you see sometimes from artists reaching down to touch the hands of the fans. He gave me a firm gripped man handshake. I didn’t think it was possible, but he definitely went up a couple of cool points in my book for that. You’ll notice that Church is wearing his signature shades, but he’s missing his hat. He broke that out shortly after this picture was taken.

image1I’m not sure how many songs were played. I just remember having a great time listening to Eric Church and making these memories with Brittany. This was by far one of the best birthday celebrations in recent memory. Side note: by this point in the evening I had to use the restroom really bad. But I didn’t want to leave and miss any part of the concert. Church had just told everyone that if there was anyone who had to work in the morning, that he’d still be there singing his songs. He also mentioned that every show he plays is a little different and this one was no exception. He said that he hadn’t planned on singing his song, ‘Jack Daniels’, but since some of his fans had brought him some Old No. 7, he’d go ahead and play it. So that’s just what he did. He took a shot of Jack, the crowd broke out in a boisterous roar, and he played the song. Afterwards, he tossed his guitarist, Driver Williams, a shot of Jack. Driver took the shot and lead them straight into the next song. Church and his band definitely aren’t your typical “Bro Country” act.

20150318_225745Brittany and I finally weaved our way through the crowd so we could use the restroom as Church started playing Springsteen. I figured that we had been right up front long enough and the show wasn’t going to last much longer anyway. If we used the restroom now, we could avoid the long lines and once we got back, we’d just hang out near the back of the crowd for the last song then we could get out of there quickly without being trampled too much.

I had an unbelievable time and I want to specifically thank Brittany for making this night happen. She wasn’t feeling well (she still isn’t), but she was a trooper and made the best of it. Just another memory we’ve created together with the help of Eric Church, during what I hope is just one of many occasions where we’re able to make some wonderful memories together. Funny how a melody sounds like a memory.



About John Shue

Just a normal guy in pursuit of happiness.
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One Response to #ChurchOnWednesday – An Early Birthday Celebration

  1. Keona says:

    Most excellent read – as we obviously share a love for Mr. Church. I’m going to say just a tad bit jealous as well for the great hand shake. Grilling utensils – cracks me up – did you see where the EPA (in MO) is attempting to restrict how much people grill? I’m serious! As a following friend of your blogs I’m excited for you and your future memories with Brittany & look forward to more great reads.

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