Country Chatter

Eric Church Surprises Tailgating Fans in Pittsburgh


Dan Como has been attending Eric Church concerts for years. In 2015, when his niece and her school choir were to perform with the Rolling Stones at Ohio Stadium in Columbus in front of 60,000, everyone in the Como family prepared to attend. But not Dan.

“I got really good seats for Eric Church,” stated Dan.

Church was playing that very same night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with Kenny Chesney. So Dan went, one of the five times prior to Saturday night he had seen Eric Church in concert.

“So many artists mail it in,” Dan said on Saturday (July 8). “Eric Church never mails it in.”

So there was no doubt that Dan would be in Pittsburgh on Saturday for Church’s latest engagement in Pennsylvania at Pavilion at Star Lake. Warnings of high traffic were announced early and Dan took heed. Purchasing a really good parking pass and early access to the parking lot.

Around 4pm, as Dan and his friends were enjoying their tailgate party, a black SUV pulls up near their spot in the parking lot. This particular SUV had been commandeered on the spur of the moment. Church was sitting on his bus with a member of his management team, Brandon Schneeberger. They’d previously kicked around the idea of roaming the parking lot at one of the Outsiders Revival shows. Pittsburgh tailgating is legendary. “Let’s do it right now,” Church said.

So they cruised the parking lot until Church spotted a Carolina blue homemade Chief shirt. “That’s the one,” he said. The car stopped.

The back door opened and a man wearing a black Chief’s shirt got out. It looked an awful lot like Eric Church.

People in the tailgating group didn’t really think it could be the Chief himself, and were hesitant to even approach him. Except for Dan, a middle school principal, who immediately breaks into a wide smile, walks right up to the new arrival—who is, in fact, Eric Church—and greets him with a hug and a handshake.

As word spread around the parking lot to the other early arrivals, the original crowd of a dozen rapidly swelled to over 50. There were photos and autographs and maybe a few squeals. As it was becoming a little unmanageable, Church hopped back in the SUV. But not before leaving Dan with a little souvenir—a bottle of Whiskey JYPSI.

“This,” Dan says, “is the best money on parking I’ve ever spent.”

Dan then joined the sold-out, 23,000-strong crowd, in a amphitheater that was packed body to body on the lawn well over an hour before Church ever stepped on the stage.

Church went into his set strong and broke out two new songs —“Break It Kind Of Guy” and “Heart of the Night” which made their tour debut that night. When it was nearly over, Church simply couldn’t leave. He’d juggled his encore set, going into “Holdin’ My Own” after “Springsteen.” But the people wanted more,  so he turned to the band and pointed to his boots. Before he even turned back to face the crowd, dozens of fans were already holding their boots in the air. They knew what was coming, and of course, he finished with “These Boots,” bringing it back for the first time since Milwaukee on the tour’s opening night.

The lyrics provided a fitting closing and a very appropriate ending to an unforgettable day for Dan Como.

“I got to watch my kids sing along to Smoke a Little Smoke and Give Me Back My Hometown,” he said. “We all talked about how surreal it was for Eric to just show up at the tailgate. He’s an incredible person. I think we all agreed we love his music so much because he is one of us. He understands what our lives are all about.”

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