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In a recent interview with Esquire, the Chief opens up about the challenges of tour, taking creative liberties with his music, as well as his past experience performing at the famed CMA Fest.
Eric Church has made a strong name for himself in the country music industry, with 9 studio albums, six No.1 singles, and a CMA Entertainer of the Year award under his belt. Despite these achievements, Church seems to regularly find his way in and out of the favor of country music fans.
Earlier this year, Church was the closing act on Saturday night of CMA Fest, a four-day music festival in Nashville, Tennessee that draws more than 90,000 attendees and is billed as the largest and longest-running country music festival in the world.
After a four song set, which notably lacked many of Church’s larger hit songs, the singer left the stage and the stadium lights were abruptly turned on – leaving fans confused and disappointed. Many fans took to Twitter to express their distaste.
Eric Church ends very wierd set and disappoints 50,000 fans. I don’t know if he was pissed off at the CMA or what. Lights come on only 4 songs in and it’s done. Major disappointment at the CMAs.#CMAFest #EricChurch pic.twitter.com/3kbIeqLRPg
— jason madigan (@jasonemadigan) June 11, 2023
Church defended his performance, saying:
“Looking back on it. I had a slot. This isn’t my show—I’m playing with seven other artists. And I didn’t play ‘Springsteen,’ I didn’t play a bunch of stuff that they probably thought I would play. But it was good! I don’t care what the blowback was. I watched it, and that set was f—ng great.”
Church’s 2023 performance is apparently not the only time that he left the CMA Fest stage on poor terms. Church shared that after his previous headlining set at the festival in 2019, he was asked to not return.
“Maybe we’re just not made for stuff like that,” Church said. “The last time I played the damn thing, I went out acoustic and played an entire medley that they never could air because I didn’t have any breaks in it. And basically, they told me not to come back again, ever. I was like, I tried to give you something special, and people still talk about that thing. But I was kind of invited not to come back—and they had me back this time, and I guess I blew it again!”
It is unclear why CMA Fest went back on their previous request by having Church return to the stage, and only time will tell what remains of the relationship between the singer and the festival.
Watch a portion of Eric Church’s 2023 CMA Fest performance below!