Whitt goes country for Eli Young Band
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The Whittemore Center Arena was a sea of cowboy hats and boots, plaid button-down shirts, and daisy duke shorts on Wednesday night for SCOPE’s presentation of Eli Young Band and show opener Kip Moore.
May 2 marked the Student Committee on Popular Entertainment’s first country concert, and UNH country fans reported being extremely excited about the choice of genre.
“We’re an agricultural school. It’s about time we have a country concert at UNH!” student Erin Metevier said.
Metevier and her friends were among the several dozen die-hard fans that waited outside the doors of the arena in the damp weather for over half an hour before the doors opened. Their devotion was rewarded with spots right in front of the stage.
The crowd was a mix of students, community members, and parents. There were several students from other schools in attendance, too, most notably from Boston College.
Many of the fans seemed to be familiar with Eli Young Band prior to the concert.
“I’m a huge country fan, and a huge fan of the band,” student Sara Haley said. “They are a fairly new band, and I think it’s great that SCOPE is promoting a new artist and genre.”
Eli Young Band was, in fact, formed 11 years ago, but the members recently skyrocketed to fame with the hit “Crazy Girl,” which earned the band its first platinum record.
“Eli Young Band just won best country song of the year for ‘Crazy Girl’ - this concert is going to be a once in a lifetime experience,” student Lincoln Date said.
The energy in the Whittemore Center was palpable: When the lights went off and the bass began to reverberate throughout the arena, the crowd began to scream. In fact, they even cheered for the sound checks beforehand.
The opener for the show was Kip Moore, a singer-songwriter from Georgia with a husky voice and a great band. The musicians played for about 45 minutes, and the audience clapped and sang along throughout the set.
“I know it’s early, but we’re gonna get loose anyway,” Moore told the crowd.
Moore amused the crowd with his tale of how he was turned down by a record executive in Nashville and told to go back to Georgia, which he obviously did not do. The singer dedicated the last verse of his song “Reckless” to that particular executive.
Between acts, while stagehands were preparing for Eli Young Band to take the stage, students lined up to take pictures with Moore, and to have him sign everything from bras to boots.
At around 9:15 p.m., Eli Young Band finally took the stage. The crowd went wild, as did the lighting. Purple and green lights pulsed with the music as fans screamed in the audience, several of them holding banners and posters. The guitarist threw several guitar picks into the crowd, much to the audience members’ delight.
Casey DeSmith had a similar reaction to that of the rest of the audience.
“I’m a big fan, and they are really good live, too!” he said.
The lead singer of Eli Young Band also shared a rags-to-riches story.
“We used to sell our independent CDs out of the backs of our trucks. We played shows in our college town with big dreams of one day playing at UNH,” Mike Eli joked.
On a more serious note, Eli encouraged the crowd to go after whatever dreams they had, before launching into the band’s popular song, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”
“Follow your dreams. Do what you love because you love it, and for no other reason,” he said.
SCOPE and the local authorities were well prepared in terms of security and show management. Only a few students were escorted out due to intoxication; the main problem seemed to be people holding others on their shoulders, and climbing or sitting on the barriers. The crowd was energetic, but not overly rowdy.
Student Amanda Walker summed up the night as a whole.
“I love it! This is awesome!” she yelled over the music, smiling.