Staff Photo: John Bohn Recording artist Phillip Phillips performs at the Mall of Georgia on Wednesday evening. Phillips, 21, a native of Georgia, won American idol's 11th season finale.
BUFORD -- As a last-minute decision, Matt and Rebecca Hoffacker brought their son, James, to his first concert. The Lawrenceville couple came to see 2012 American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips, Wednesday night at the Mall of Georgia Village Amphitheater.
"I like how original he is," Rebecca said of Phillips' music. "I like his passion."
Hundreds of screaming fans, most of them teenage girls, came to greet Phillips as he performed a free acoustic set. Lindsey Crawford of Sugar Hill was one of them.
"I want to marry him," said Crawford, who came with her friend Hannah Phillips and Hannah's mother, Donna, both from Sugar Hill. "It's cool that he is from here and he does free concerts.
Phillips performed five songs from his new CD -- "The World From This Side of the Moon" -- which was released Monday. He started the set with "Hold On," then continued with faster-paced "Gone, Gone, Gone," the slower "Wanted Is Love," and then the bluesy "Man On the Moon."
Phillips closed the night with "Home," the American Idol designated single, which prompted the audience to sing along and generated thunderous applause
Fans lined up along the fence that separated them from Phillips. There were even one or two handmade signs to show love toward the singer. One child's sign said, "Me [heart]'s P Squared."
Whether sitting on blankets or standing up, fans came from near and far to see Phillips, including Donna Glaser, who traveled from Habersham County to attend the concert. Glaser, who brought her daughters Jessica and Emily, heard about the concert from a friend at work and decided to come south to see Phillips live.
"I like that he has different music," said Glaser. "It's unique. There's nobody like him."
Sisters Leslie and Melissa Ancieta of Flowery Branch have been fans of Phillips since he won the title of American Idol in May.
"I like his style," said Leslie, who just bought Phillips' album and had her armband for the meet-and-greet and CD signing after the concert. "It is real and honest."
"He's not in for the fame," Melissa said, chiming in. "He loves what he does."
Phillips will return to the area on Dec. 13 as part of the Star 94 Jingle Jam at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Joining Phillips is Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, Grace Potter, Andy Grammer and Alex Clare.