Zac Brown Band
September 1, 2012
Mohegan Sun Arena
On Saturday, September 1, 2012, I had the privilege of having the full Zac Brown Band experience: access to the Eat & Greet, a Pit Pass, and an up close and personal look into the most talented group of musicians country music has to offer. It started off with an orange wristband and a brief wait in the lobby the Mohegan Sun Arena. I’ve had several meet and greets with other artists in numerous different rooms within the Arena, but this Eat & Greet experience was deep into the halls of the Arena. We walked into a large room where several of the Band’s trucks were and saw several tables set in the form of an inside picnic.
Each of the Band members was at the entrance ready to greet each of the lucky fans with wristband. After shaking hands with each of them, I spotted Chef Rusty Hamlin, the Band’s head road Chef. I had tweeted him earlier in the day and he was happy (and extremely excited) to show me each of the dishes he had prepared for us. He explained he got all of the ingredients at a local farm, Holmberg Orchards. He then told us to head to the bar because there was an open bar with Jack Daniels and Landshark.
Zac Brown then gave a short speech and handed the microphone to Chef Rusty who spoke about the various food options, which included ratatouille, sweet potatoes with pecans, coleslaw, beef, pork, cornbread fritters, and more. It was truly incredible food with an insane amount of flavors and freshness. On top of that, each of the members moved about the tables and spent time speaking with the fans. The access to the band, the open bar, and the amazing food made the Eat & Greet a truly remarkable experience.
I spoke to Zac about the type of guitar strings he likes to play with. I had noticed he uses nylon strings and wanted to know why. He spent a good deal of time really explaining it to me. He said he grew up playing classical music and learned on those strings. And for the style he plays, with such intensity, it is easier on his finger tips. I also asked Clay Cook if he was going to be singing any songs that night and he said that the Band does not make up the setlist until right before they go on stage because they “want to play songs they feel like playing on that particular night”. That explains why their setlists are completely different each night (much unlike most of the country music world who basically play the same songs each night).
I then made my way down to the Pit area as the opening act, Levi Lowery, was finishing his set. A giant white sheet/screen covered the stage as a countdown was on to the main event. The sheet flew up and the band wasted no time as the opening guitar intro to the title cut of their new album “Uncaged” was up first. The stage was an enormous set, with moving cranes and lights, three huge projection screens, and the band members stationed as a cohesive unit. When the second song played was “Toes”, we knew that the setlist that night was going to be amazing.
Throughout the set, it was very apparent that each member of the Band is a vital and unique part. Of course, Zac is the leader. But, each member is unbelievably talented in their own right. Songs like “The Wind” and “Who Knows”, which the latter of which became a fourteen minute jam out, really showcase the diversity and skill. Each member gets their own time in the spotlight playing their respective instruments.
I was on the left side of center, right alongside the fiddler, Jimmy De Martini, who I have often referred to as the most talented musician in country music. If anyone wants to argue with me, bring it. He absolutely blew my mind as well as everyone standing around me. When he would rip into a fiddle solo, whether it was on “Devil Went Down To Georgia”, “Free” or “Sic Em On A Chicken”, mouths dropped. He is worth the price of admission in of itself.
The Band did a three song acoustic set, where they sat down on crates and boxes in the front of catwalk and were joined by Levi Lowrey. I was not a huge fan of this portion as I’d rather see the Band going all out in their natural element. But there was also something very genuine about the set. They gave a bit of insight into what it must be like when they are creating their songs. Still, the excitement level of the crowd seemed to die down. But when the opening fiddle notes of “Free” started when the Band returned to the stage, there was no downtime for the rest of the night.
The Encore began with a ten minute jam out between the Fryar and De Los Reyes. The bongos and drums were smashed with such intensity that I could feel the vibrations from the floor up into my body. And with true class and patriotism, the Band finished the night off with “America, The Beatiful” as a pre-lude to their signature song, “Chicken Fried”. While most of the night was a sing-a-long, the crowd was never louder during the final megahit.
Zac thanked the crowd and each of the members took a bow. They exited the stage and never have I ever been so full of satisfaction from a concert experience. Between the backstage experience and the exhilirating performance, I saw a state of class, intimacy, talent, and perfection, that not many other music acts can match, nor care to put forth. Zac’s attention to details and his care for his fans help Zac Brown Band stand apart at the forefront of musical entertainment.
- Not Okay
- As She’s Walking Away
- No Hurry
- The Wind
- Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band Cover)
- Colder Weather
- Jump Right In
- Keep Me In Mind
- Wherever We Break Down (Acoustic Song with Levi Lowrey)
- One Day (Acoustic Song)
- Sweet Emotion (Acoustic Song – Aerosmith Cover)
- Into the Mystic (Van Morrison Cover)
- Who Knows
- Knee Deep
- Sic Em On A Chicken
- Sweet Annie
- Devil Went Down To Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band Cover)
- Drum Solo’s by Chris Fryar & Daniel De Los Reyes (ENCORE)
- Whiskey’s Gone (ENCORE)
- America The Beautiful (ENCORE)
- Chicken Fried (ENCORE)