Beverly Matda and Melissa Richardson traveled from Southwest Virginia to stand in the front row for Train — the Grammy-award winning headliner for ETSU’s spring concert, which for the first time permitted public access.
A half hour before the show began, Matda and Richardson found a place inside the mini-dome to get the best view of lead singer Pat Monahan performing “Drops of Jupiter,” “Calling All Angels” and “50 Ways to Say Goodbye.”
“I’ve got the hots for Pat,” said Richardson, who was being treated to the concert by Matda for her upcoming birthday.
“It was an easy drive and the tickets were a really good price,” said Matda, who had never been on campus before. “It’s also nice to have something to go to that’s 18 and older. Sometimes you just want to be with other adults.”
Also treating a friend for their birthday, ETSU junior Andrew Malone said he was excited to see that Train was picked to play the concert.
“It’s a fun thing to do to kickoff the weekend,” Malone said. “Especially with it being so close to the end of the semester, it will be nice to have something to do to relax before finals.”
The popularity of Train’s early work resonated through those in attendance.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Malone said about Train taking the stage. “I’m really hoping they will play some of their older stuff.”
ETSU Director of Student Activities Leah Adinolfi also had high hopes for Train to play songs from their early days.
“I’m a ’90s Train fan,” Adinolfi said. “They have some good new stuff, too, but I have to say I’m a ’90s Train fan.”
Adinolfi said ticket sales had reached more than 5,000 before the show started.
“Our venue will max out at right about 6,500,” Adinolfi said. “It’s just exciting when ETSU has an event that has 5,000 people at it. We don’t have very many of these. When we open the doors, I get tingly all over.”
Adinolfi estimated that about half of the ticket sales were from non-students.
“We’ve sold some tickets today on site,” Adinolfi said. “We’re going to have a pretty packed house tonight.”
Adinolfi said she was excited to show students and the public what ETSU is capable of when playing host to a “mega act” like Train as well as Knoxville-based The Dirty Guv’nahs and local talent Chris Dula & Friends.
Gabby Billiot, secretary of external affairs for ETSU’s Student Government Association, said she was excited to bring popular bands to campus for students and the public.
“We haven’t had the No. 1 pick come in a really long time,” Billiot said. “They are getting ready to listen to some great local, regional and mainstream music and have a great time with their friends.”
Billiot said Train returning to the area gives fans who went home for the holidays another chance to watch them live.
“They were here in December for Acoustic Christmas, but a lot of our students were already gone at that point in time,” she said. “I feel like the die-hard fans were missing out, but now they are here.”
Permitting the public to attend the concert has been a popular change this semester, said Adinolfi and Billiot.
“We’ve opened it up to the public with the intention of trying to bring the community into campus and showcase some of the things ETSU can do,” Adinolfi said.
While Adinolfi anticipates ETSU keeping the change in effect for future concerts, Billiot said that decision will depend on the success of this concert.
“We’ll just have to see how this one goes,” Billiot said.