By Helena Rodriguez
About 1,000 people packed the Eastern New Mexico University Ballroom on Thursday night, all eager to hear the Texas phenomenon of the moment, Pat Green — who is making waves on national country music charts — perform a free concert.
From die-hard fans to those unfamiliar, but curious about the recently unknown artist riding his way up the Billboard charts, crowds begin lining up three hours before the doors were opened. They formed a wide line that snaked from the ENMU bookstore and mid-way to the fountains in the center of the campus.
Will Kayatin, director of the Office of Student Activities and Organizations, said the concert was not actually free. While there was no ticket charge, it was paid for by student activity fees.
Green’s current hit, “Wave on Wave” is listed at No. 15 in this week’s Billboard Country Music Chart. And like a hurricane, Green — a two-time Grammy nominee and graduate of Texas Tech University — has been riding the wave of success, seemingly overnight.
“Persistence has had a lot to do with my success,” Green said during a preconcert press conference. The 30-year-old recorded eight albums before his quick rise to country music’s elite, which he said took him over 10 years to accomplish.
“When I write a song, I don’t think about writing a hit, I write about what I feel and just keep on writing and putting stuff on the market,” Green said. “I think we’ve done it the right way, starting with an independent label then going to major label. We haven’t had a lot of radio success, but we sell out the Astrodome? Which would you rather have?”
He said the band has had a lot of “pivotal moments” the past four years, producing one hit song after another, but said the group’s real success is due to the chemistry of the band members.
One ENMU student, Mallory Davis, had seen Green six times prior to Thursday night’s concert, but that didn’t keep her from coming back for more.
“It’s all about Pat Green!” said Davis, who came out to the campus at 4 p.m. to peak at the line, but went home and came back an hour before doors opened.
Students were let in at 7 p.m., ENMU staff and faculty at 7:30 p.m., and others shortly thereafter.
The crowd went wild as Green came onto stage and opened with one of his hits, “Carry On.”
“When Pat Green is playing in the area, I follow him. I’ve gone to Amarillo, Lubbock and Las Cruces,” Davis said.
Another avid fan, Steve Swift, said, “Pat Green is about real life. He doesn’t play those sad country songs. He sings about drinking beer and having a good time.”
ENMU employee Olympia Chino, said, “I’ve never heard of Joe Green, I mean Pat Green before, but there’s nothing like a free concert in Portales.”
Chino’s husband, Fred, an employee at the ENMU Post Office, said, “I’m not much into country and Western, but I talked to a lot of people who said he was really good.”
As for Green, he was excited making his debut performance at ENMU.
“I’ve never played in Portales, New Mexico, but anytime you play at a college, I expect the crowd to be wild and potentially out of control,” he said. “That’s what it’s like with our band, when we get together and drink.”