Posted by: Amy | May 12, 2010

May 8 – Eli Young Band, Workplay Theatre, Birmingham, AL

After spending several hours in a smoky bar on Friday night and not getting home until almost 5:00 a.m. on Saturday following the Brantley Gilbert show, I was struggling to get motivated for the Eli Young Band show in Birmingham. But, I knew that a fun night with one of my best friends was ahead of me, so I rallied! I found out on Thursday that EYB was playing in Atlanta on Friday night, but I already had plans to see Brantley on Friday night. I’m glad that it worked out that I could see both Brantley and EYB over the course of the weekend. I would’ve been really bummed if I’d missed EYB while they were making a rare appearance in the Southeast!

Eli Young Band was first on my radar after I heard them playing at a kickoff concert for the 2008 CMA Awards. The concert was broadcast on XM and I heard it as I was leaving work one night. They were singing “Small Town Kid” and I immediately identified with the song. Isn’t it funny how songs can immediately take you back to a certain situation? It’s sort of random that I remember exactly where I was when I heard that song, but it struck a chord with me. I’m from a really small town and I don’t always feel like I fit in in the big city, so I could totally relate to the song! I scrolled through the menus on my radio to see who was singing the song and when I found out that it was EYB, I remembered hearing “When It Rains” on the radio a few times. I got home and started looking at their album on iTunes because I had to have “Small Town Kid.” Unfortunately, it’s not on their first major label album and at the time, their three previous independently released albums were not available for sale. I was able to locate “Small Town Kid” and another early song, “Everything Is You,” online and I downloaded them. I also bought the Jet Black and Jealous album. A few months later, all of the band’s earlier albums were released and I legitimately downloaded them then. 🙂

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I started checking the band’s tour schedule regularly, but to my dismay their shows were almost exclusively in Texas and Oklahoma. It wasn’t until July, 2009 that they finally made their way to Atlanta. I immediately made plans to go and I recruited my friends Rachel and Sarah to go with me. Sarah is quite possibly the luckiest person on the planet when it comes to winning radio contests. On the day of the show, she sent me a text to tell me that she’d won two passes to go backstage for an acoustic performance and meet and greet with the band and she invited me to go back with her. I was extremely excited because I really identify with EYB’s music and I wanted to tell them how much it meant to me. The guys were all super nice. They signed autographs and took pictures. Their live show was even better than I thought that it would be. Four months later I saw them again at the Tabernacle when they opened for Gary Allan. They were one of the main reasons that we bought tickets to the Gary Allan show and they were just as good as the first time that I saw them. I’ve been promoting them and their music since I first started listening to them.

One of my EYB converts is my friend Ashley. She lives in Alabama and we don’t get to see each as often as we’d like, but we keep in touch through e-mail and try to meet at as many concerts as we can. When I saw that EYB was going to be at Workplay in Birmingham on a Saturday night, I told her that we had to go! We’ve been talking about seeing them for over a year! We met at the venue and got our wristbands and waited for the doors to open. Workplay is a really neat multi-use venue with a bar, a theatre and a soundstage, which is used as a rehearsal space and for larger shows. I have been to two previous shows at Workplay, both at the soundstage. EYB’s show was in the theatre, a smaller, more intimate venue. When the doors opened, we made our way to the stage and planted ourselves on the second row. The theatre is a really cool space. There are two levels of seating around the perimeter of the room and a general admission floor. I really like the whole set up of Workplay. It’s a great venue for live music!

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Before the show started, we were approached by a man handing out wristbands for a meet and greet with the band. I was a little hesitant about leaving our spots, but it was worth it to meet the band again. We waited in line in the lobby and were given our instructions. We were each handed an 8×10 photo of the band for their signature and told that they would only sign one thing. So, if we had something else for them to sign, they wouldn’t sign the photo, too. I had brought the liner notes from Jet Black and Jealous because it had only been signed by Mike (lead vocals & acoustic guitar) and Jon Jones (bass, background vocals) and I was missing signatures from James Young (electric guitar, background vocals) and Chris Thompson (drummer). I debated on what I wanted to have signed, but I decided to just have them finish signing my liner notes. We were taken in small groups to the room where the band was. Ashley and I got to go back together without anyone else, which was kind of cool. I walked in first and shook Chris’ hand. He introduced himself and I handed him my liner notes. Mike was next and before he could say anything, I said, “Hey, Mike!” He said, “Hey! We’ve met before, haven’t we?” I said, “Yes, in Atlanta last year!” Jon asked, “At the Gary Allan show?” At the same time, Mike and I both said, “No.” And I continued, “I met y’all at Cowboys last summer.” Mike then asked my name and took my 8×10 photo and wrote “Amy, Best!” and signed it and passed it around for everyone else to sign. They told me that they’d just played Atlanta the night before and I told them that I didn’t know about it until the day before the show and that I already had tickets for Brantley Gilbert that night. They said that the Atlanta show was a last-minute addition and they asked how Brantley’s show was. I replied with something like, “It was awesome!” Then Mike looked at Ashley and asked, “But, I haven’t met you before, have I?” She answered, “No.” I’m sure that they all chatted some more with Ashley, but I was so floored by the fact that Mike remembered me almost a year later that I don’t really remember what else was said. We lined up to take our picture and then I shook James’ and Jon’s hands and wished them all a great show. They really are such nice guys and took their time chatting with us.

We missed the majority of the opener, Duquette Johnston, but from the bit that I heard, I was intrigued. He had a folksy, Americana vibe and he was center stage, just him and his guitar.

Following a rather quick set change, Eli Young Band took the stage as Marc Broussard’s “Home” played in the background. They kicked off the show with their third single “Radio Waves.” Throughout the night, they played tracks from the Level and Jet Black and Jealous albums, including “Mystery in the Making,” which is one of my favorites. They also played a new song called “Crazy Girl” that will be on their upcoming album. Yay for new music! Before playing “Guinevere” Mike thanked the fans for pushing the record label to release it as a single and encouraged everyone to request the song. He said that it was his favorite song on the album. It’s one of my favorites, too! The band did a cool cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” before playing their own “Oklahoma Girl.” They are all a high energy bunch and they all seem very comfortable with each other and with being on stage. They’ve been playing together for almost ten years, so I’m sure that familiarity comes with the territory after that long! While all of the guys have fun on stage, I would dare to argue that Chris Thompson has the best time. He’s constantly back there at the drums twirling his drumsticks and getting so into the music. He’s fun to watch!

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For the encore the band played “Home,” a song written about Mike’s cousin who is in the military. Mike took time to thank our military and their families for the sacrifices that they make for our freedom. They closed the show with “Small Town Kid” and Mike did introductions of all of the band. He also announced that they would be signing autographs in the lobby following the show. There was a group of fans near the front that all appeared to be hardcore EYB fans and they were singing along to every song. It was such a fun night. They put on a great show!! I’m really looking forward to seeing them again in a couple of weeks at the Country Throwdown tour in Charlotte!

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I didn’t take too many pictures because I was so caught up in singing along, but you can see my photos here.

Eli Young Band’s Set List

  • Radio Waves
  • So Close Now
  • Crazy Girl (new song)
  • Bottom Line
  • Mystery in the Making
  • That’s the Way
  • Throw and Go
  • Level
  • I Call the Tune
  • Guinevere
  • Highways and Broken Hearts
  • Everything Is You
  • When It Rains
  • Jet Black and Jealous
  • Tom Petty’s American Girl
  • Oklahoma Girl
  • Always the Love Songs

Encore:

  • Home
  • Small Town Kid

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