Eric Church may have been the headlining act at LA’s Staples Center on January 23, but Dwight Yoakam roped that baby calf with undeniable ease and rode away with the trophy. Regardless of the fact that today’s youth seem to view anyone over 40 as completely insignificant, Dwight has been honing his craft over the past 30 years, which yields a powerful performance highlighted by an understated confidence, knowing that he doesn’t have to prove a damn thing to anybody. He’s been there, done that and he just wants to play his music for you. Oh and do a little boot scootin’ and twistin’ here and there in those oh so well fitting tight jeans of his.
Dwight has deservedly earned his title of reigning king of contemporary Honky Tonk music. With 21 albums under his belt, 12 of which are Gold, and a staggering 25 million records sold, this wrangler ain’t no one-hit wonder. Outfitted in a sequined jacket and his signature low-riding, wide-brimmed cowboy hat, Dwight simply sparkles inside and out. He has that one of a kind appeal that youth or money just can’t buy.
Although his set was sadly shorter than I had hoped, he gifted us with his iconic “Little Sister,” a beefy rendition of the Johnny Cash hit “Ring of Fire,” his twang filled “Honky Tonk Man,” yodel-icious “Little Ways,” the always crowd pleasing “Guitars, Cadillacs,” and my personal all time favorite, “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere.” His music is raw, unfiltered and sincerely genuine. He oozes talent and he lets his hillbilly star shine for all to see. He doesn’t have to TELL YOU he’s an outlaw or a bad ass. He just IS his own unique person. Period. Love it. Love Dwight Yoakam. Always have. Always will. He put on a phenomenal show.
Which leads me to Eric Church. I will start by saying that I saw him open for Kenny Chesney two summers ago at Angels Stadium in Anaheim and he put on a totally outstanding show. He really did, and I was a solid fan from that point forward. However, watching him headline this show nearly two year later, I couldn’t help but feel as though his bad boy attitude is somewhat contrived and unnatural. It struck me as over the top and dare I say, egomaniacal. This photograph is a perfect example of the level of self-adoration I’m speaking about.
I struggle to connect with people anywhere who are obviously going out of their way to impress others and show everyone what an anti-establishment rebel they are. Over-self promotion tends to grate on my nerves and I was unable to escape the feeling that Eric Church purposefully makes a point to prove to his audience what a renegade bad ass he is. Frankly, I find that kind of attitude to be yawn-worthy and quickly lost interest in the show. Undoubtedly, he has his own style and is a talented singer and played some of his cooler songs like “Talladega,” a banjo-pickin’ “Give Me Back My Hometown,” “Creepin,” and a far out version of a “Bruce Springsteen/I’m on Fire” mix, I can’t help but be a little turned off by his seemingly obsessive self-love.
I dig his music, and I honestly hope that Eric Church will grow out of this phase and into a more unpretentious and humble performer as he progresses in age and experience. With all that being said, this is just my two cents worth. You can take it or you can leave it. Music is my passion and being the passionate and animated individual that I am, I like to call the shots as I see and feel them. Nothing more. Nothing less. And on that note… Happy trails to you, until we meet again.