Imagine you’re a massive artist gearing up for a brand new 50-some date tour, walking into rehearsals and seeing your brand new stage for the first time – a stage that took months to build and design – and realizing that you hate it.
That was exactly the problem that Eric Church found himself faced with when he was getting ready to kick off The Gather Again Tour.
The massive tour marks the first time Eric has ever done a tour “in the round,” with the stage in the middle of the arena and fans on all sides. So obviously it’s a setup that’s going to require a brand new stage from the ones that Eric’s used to performing on for prior tours.
But when Eric got to Lititz, Pennsylvania for rehearsals and saw the stage for the first time, there was a big problem: He hated it.
Eric discussed his reaction on his recent appearance on Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast:
“I never had a chance to really see the stage we were building because it was built offsite – it was built in Pennsylvania.
We went to rehearse in Lititz, Pennsylvania, which is where they were building it in a rehearsal hall up there, and I walked in and as soon as I walked in I knew this was not going to work.
I went, ‘This whole stage is terrible. It looks like a Mardi Gras barge.’
It was awful.”
I can’t imagine what those poor folks who had worked for months on that stage felt like when Eric said that he hated it.
But when you have this many fans paying to see you put on the best show possible, you’ve got to make sure that’s what you give them.
So Eric told them to start over.
“I was like, ‘How fast can we punt?’
We ended up playing with that stage for like the first three weekends, because we had to. We were building the new one.”
Crisis (kind of) averted?
Eric showed off the ill-fated stage (the one that he hated) in a video he released back at the beginning of the tour – and watching it back, you can tell that he’s not thrilled with it.
The original stage had two levels, with his drummer on one side of the middle riser and his piano player on the other.
But if you look at videos from his most recent shows you’ll see the newly-reconfigured stage – the one that Eric approved – is only one level and has the entire band together in the middle of the stage, with catwalks out into the pit area on either side for Eric to get out in the middle of his fans.
Because when you’re an Entertainer of the Year winner trying to give your fans the best show possible, you’ve gotta do what you gotta do to get it right.