Country music artist Eric Church proudly holds in his right hand a shot glass of Jack Daniels—his drink of choice.

Stephen Kline/Broadside

“How many shots I have will determine what kind of night it’s going to be,” said Church, during his Oct. 26 Blood, Sweat and Beers concert at the Patriot Center.

Regardless of how many shots he actually downed, Eric Church’s show could easily be one of the biggest parties that Mason has seen all semester.

Throughout the 90-minute performance, the excitement level was so high that the few thousand audience members rarely sat down.

Energy continuously flowed between Church and his audience.

“I promise you I’m going to give you everything I got,” said Church, towards the beginning of his performance. “But you also better give me everything you got.”

Clapping their hands, singing along, dancing in front of their seats, waving their drinks in the air, and howling at times, the audience heeded Church’s call.

The show began as the 35-year-old, 6-foot-2 singer-songwriter emerged in a cloud of theatrical smoke from under the stage, wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans and baseball cap.

The stage was set with pyrotechnics and strobe lights.

Playing an acoustic guitar, Church opened with a song entitled “Country Music Jesus”, about a prophet who preaches from the book of Johnny Cash.

He followed with some of his radio hits including “How ‘Bout You” and “Hell on the Heart”.

Church has a unique ability to write and perform songs that relate to real life situations, both joyful and bittersweet.

The audience appreciated Church’s talent, and connected with his melodies, especially those that were drug-related, including “Drink in My Hand” , “Smoke a Little Smoke” and “I’m Gettin’ Stoned.”

Yet despite his song lyrics, one can appreciate Church’s sheer musical talent, even when completely sober.

While Church is an innovative musician who prides himself on defying country music’s norms, he also has the graceful humility to recognize the country music legends that came decades before him.

For example, Church paid tribute to country great Merle Haggard, when performing “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag”, which featured guitar riffs from some of Haggard’s songs.

Similarly, Church honored Hank Williams, Jr. with a spirited cover rendition of “A Country Boy Can Survive”.

Eric Church said that his favorite part of the performance was when he played some comparatively mellow songs on his acoustic guitar while sitting on a stool at the front of the stage.

“This takes me back to how my career all started, just me and my guitar,” Church said. “It wasn’t long ago when I was playing to just 20 or 30 people.”

The concert, which lasted from 7:30 to 11 p.m., began with hour-long performances by unrelated country stars Kip Moore and Justin Moore.

Kip performed his biggest hit to date “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck”, and Justin performed hits such as “Small Town USA”, familiar to modern country radio listeners.

The country music performed by all three artists is by no means the country music of fifty years ago.

The music, which seemed more like southern rock at times, was exciting, filled with electric guitars and pulsating drumbeats.

The most poignant moment of the evening occurred as Church performed his finale and recent smash hit “Springsteen”.

Church explained how “Springsteen” is about how a melody sounds like a memory, and reminisced about his first time attending an outdoor concert with friends, as a 16-year-old in rural North Carolina.

“I remember the way the sun looked, the smell of the grass and the smell of the beer,” Church said. “Memories are what this song is about.”

Stereotypically, one may associate country music with heartbreak and melancholy, but the music of Church and both Moores was nearly the opposite.

If the Blood, Sweat and Beers concert elicited any emotions among the audience, by far it was the thrill of letting loose and the joy of hanging out with friends.

And these are feelings that country music, and college for that matter, should always encourage.