Eric Church Responds to Critics of His Stagecoach Performance: ‘This Was the Most Difficult Set I Have Ever Attempted’

The "Record Year" singer drew some negative responses from fans at the country music festival, when he performed an unorthodox set of gospel-inspired tunes.

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Image Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Eric Church set the record straight on his Stagecoach performance, which drew a mixed reaction from the crowd, on Friday, April 26. The country singer, 46, acknowledged that he had a different style of performance in mind than what the crowd seemed to expect, but he stood by his decision to perform a stripped-down, gospel-inspired set at the country music festival.

For his headlining set, Eric performed a range of songs, including covers of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah,” a few hymns, soul songs like “Stand By Me” and “People Get Ready,” and rap covers like “California Love” by Tupac and “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg. He was accompanied by a choir, and performed in front of a stained glass backdrop. He also performed stripped-down takes of his own songs, but his own band joined him at the end of his set, closing out with his classic “Springsteen.”

Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Stagecoach

While some people enjoyed the country star shaking up his usual performance, the unexpected set did encourage some fans to call it a night and ditch his set. One fan filmed what appeared to be swaths of people leaving the show. “We paid $600 to see a headline where people are mass leaving,” they wrote. “He hasn’t gotten off the stool and most songs are covers with the choir. This isn’t what we came for.”

In response to the criticism, Eric released a statement, standing by his decision, citing other influences including Bruce SpringsteenWillie Nelson, and Bob Seger. “This was the most difficult set I have ever attempted. 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. The origin of all that is still the purest form of it. And we don’t do that as much anymore. It felt good at this moment to go back, take a choir and do that,” he said, via Variety

He continued and showed that he was proud to take a risk, closer to what a newer artist would do. “For me, it’s always been something with records, with performances, I’ve always been the one that’s like, ‘let’s do something really, really strange and weird and take a chance.’ Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s okay if you’re living on that edge, because that edge, that cutting edge, is where all the new guys are going to gravitate to anyway. So if you can always challenge yourself that way, it always cuts sharper than any other edge,” he said.

Eric made a final guest appearance during Morgan Wallen‘s headline set on Sunday, April 28. The duo performed Morgan’s song “Man Made a Bar.”