The Student Programming Council (SPC) welcomed Eli Young Band to McDonough Field for Fall Band Party on Monday evening.

Eli Young Band is a country music group based in Denton, Texas. They have gained popularity in the last few years by opening for popular country music artists like Miranda Lambert and Pat Green as well as receiving three Academy of Country Music Awards nominations in 2012.

When the event first began with the opening act, only a modest group of attendees congregated near the front of the stage, many of whom considered themselves avid Eli Young Band fans.

“Half of these people are only here for the pizza,” said Business School senior Olivia Farley, referring to the fact that SPC provided pizza and beer at the event. “But I’m here for Eli Young Band; I know all the words.”

However, the crowd doubled in size when it came time for the main act, drawing approximately 200 students.

When Eli Young Band finally entered the stage, many students in the crowd cheered and began singing along immediately. The lead singer and guitarist tossed guitar picks to the audience throughout the performance.

College junior Celeste Banks and College sophomore Amanda Bastien were among the fans in the front row; both agreed that they wanted there to be a good turnout for the performance.

“This is a bonding opportunity; Emory isn’t a country school, but there are secret country lovers,” Banks said.

Fans like Banks and Bastien looked forward to the band playing their popular songs “Crazy Girl,” “It’s Always a Love Song” and “Guinevere.” When the band played these chart-topping songs, they received vocal crowd reactions. During “Even if it Breaks Your Heart, Eli Young Band even encouraged the audience to sing parts of the chorus by themselves.

The lead singer Mike Eli repeatedly expressed his appreciation for the crowd’s enthusiasm in between the songs.

“It’s a bit cold, but we’re about to heat it up,” he said, which elicited cheers from the audience.

For some students, however, the cold weather was a deterrent to staying for the entire event. However, Chloe Saeks, College senior and Band Party chair, predicted that every country fan would be in attendance regardless of the weather or the event being on a Monday night.

The process by which SPC brings musicians to Emory begins months in advance and involves contacting multiple talent agencies. For this event, SPC contacted Paradigm Talent Agency in Nashville around three to four months in advance. SPC also coordinated with the University as to which dates were available for the event.

Saeks said that it required a lot of research, and SPC strongly pursued Eli Young Band.

According to Business School sophomore and SPC Treasurer Michael Nathin, Fall Band Party has featured artists like Akon and O.A.R., but has not featured a country music artist in the last few years.

“We’re in the South; it needed to be done,” Saeks said.

SPC brought up-and-coming country band Mockingbird Sun from Nashville to open for Eli Young Band. They were relatively unknown among Emory students, but they have a relationship with Eli Young Band, according to Saeks.

In order to advertise the event, SPC put up posters around campus. They also spray-painted a large banner in Asbury Circle and created a Facebook group to promote the event.

Nathin says that he wants people to enjoy the event and would love to hear student feedback.

– Rupsha Basu