Zac Brown Band’s Florida Road Trip

 

Zac Brown Band
w/ Kacey Musgraves & Keb’ Mo’
West Palm Beach, FL
May 31, 2014

The Zac Brown Band brought their American Road Trip Tour to South Florida this past week as they played to four enormous crowds, two in Tampa and two in West Palm Beach.  I was lucky enough to be in the Palm Beach area and caught Saturday’s show at the Cruzan Amphitheater.  My wife and I were fortunate to not only run into and speak to Zac at our hotel’s pool earlier that day, but were able to attend the “Eat & Greet” that ZBB and Chef Rusty put on for a handful of fans before each of their shows. 

We were served up some amazing pork, beef, coleslaw, corn and more as fans got to interact with all the bandmates.  This was my third eat and greet experience and each one has been a bit different, but always overly satisfying.  I got to spend some extended time speaking to Chris Fryar, the drummer for ZBB.  I have met a lot of people in the music business over the years, but Chris may have been the most down to earth and honest guy I have ever spoken with.  He really produced a sense of thankfulness for the fans, what he does for a living and the experiences he has been able to have due to the Band’s success. 

After the eat and greet, we arrived in the Pit just in time for Kacey Musgraves to hit the stage.  Kacey put forth a relaxed, yet quality set full of songs from her first album that has been critically acclaimed all year.  She is one of my favorite female artists and it was great to finally see her in front of a huge crowd (which, by the way, was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen for an Amphitheater setting). 

 
Kacey stuck to mostly her songs, but also broke out some fun covers, including a Latin-infused version of “Dance With You” by George Strait, in which she brought out Daniel De Los Reyes, from the Zac Brown Band to play the bongos.  She also covered Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” (which she had written) and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” at the end of her own song, “Step Off”. 
 
 

When it came time for the main event, it was apparent that Zac and the boys really changed things up for this tour.  Everything from the setlist, the stage, big screens, and special effects were diligently conceived and masterfully executed.  And ZBB came flying out of the gate with “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and they never looked back. 

Zac, himself, seemed to be a bit different this time around.  As always, his vocals and instrumental focus was as good as anyone in the business, but he seemed a lot happier and interacted with the crowd a lot more.  He jumped into the crowd during the entire “Keep Me In Mind”, running around slapping everyone five.  Further, he was down on his knees thanking the crowd during “Colder Weather”.  It was great to see him so happy and interactive. 

 
As any ZBB concert-goer knows, you will never hear the same setlist twice, a real salute to the musicianship that they are dedicated to.  On this night hits such as “Toes”, “Goodbye In Her Eyes” and “As She’s Walking Away” were performed, but non-album cuts and numerous covers as well.  At one point, during an acoustic portion, Zac told the crowd he got an e-mail from Billy Joel´╗┐ saying he wanted to do a song with him at their run of Fenway Park shows, and then they performed a stirring version of “Piano Man”.  Clay Cook took the vocals for Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” and John Hopkins for Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman” during the encore.  When seeing the Zac Brown Band live, you must expect the unexpected”.  In fact, the famed blues artist, Keb’ Mo’ sat in the band at two separate times during the night for some nasty funk that had the crowd dancing to a different, yet welcomed beat. 

 
To some, ZBB is best known for “Chicken Fried” and it was unusual for me to hear this song smack in the middle of their set, instead of the usually placement at the end of the night (again, the unexpected).  And during the patriotic verse of the song, a member of the military came out to salute the crowd in unison with the lyrics.  It was chilling to see the response of the soldier’s face letting out a sigh of emotion as he walked off the stage, which was captured on the giant screens. 
 

 
The real highlight, for me, was after a ten minute intermission, the Band came back to a lighting and rain storm created by special effects as they performed a bombastic version of “Let It Rain” from the Grohl Sessions, Vol. I Ep.  The effects seen during this song rival anything I’ve ever seen at any other concert and I cannot wait to see it in a Stadium show later this summer. 
 
 
The encore of the night did not disappoint in the least either.  Dressed in glow-in-the-dark outfits and intricate masks, ZBB blasted into “Day of the Dead”, “Enter the Sandman” and Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream”.  The band members almost morphed into these creatures on stage and the whole feeling was one of intrique.  Amazing dedication down to last detail. 
 
 

 
 
 
I will say it once, if not a thousand times, there is no band, country or otherwise, that is quite like the Zac Brown Band.  Whether it comes to the instrumentals, song selection, or overall quality of what you see and hear, no one quite compares, for my money.  The Great American Road Trip Tour will seemingly be everywhere this summer, from Amphitheaters to Stadiums alike.  This is one, that no music fan should miss. 

 
 

SETLIST:

Zac Brown Band

  1. Devil Went Down to GA (Charlie Daniels Band Cover)
  2. Knee Deep
  3. As She’s Walking Away
  4. Goodbye In Her Eyes
  5.  Times Like These (Foo Fighters Cover)
  6. Different Kind of Fine
  7. Uncaged
  8. Grandma’s Hands with Keb’ Mo’
  9. Keep Me In Mind
  10. The Muse
  11. Chicken Fried
  12. You Never Even Call Me By My Name (David Allen Coe Cover)
  13. Am I Wrong with Keb’ Mo’
  14. Piano Man (Billy Joel Cover)
  15. Seven Bridges Road (The Eagles Cover)
  16. Let It Rain
  17. Highway 20 Ride
  18. Sic’ Em’ On A Chicken
  19. Isn’t She Lovely/Neon
  20. No Hurry
  21. The Wind
  22. Colder Weather
  23. Toes
  24. Day For the Dead
  25. Enter the Sandman (Metallica Cover)
  26. Running Down a Dream (Tom Petty Cover)

Kacey Musgraves

  1. The Trailer Song
  2. Blowing Smoke
  3. Stupid
  4. Dance With You with Daniel De Los Reyes (George Strait Cover)
  5. Mama’s Broken Heart
  6. Keep It To Yourself
  7. Merry Go Round
  8. Step Off/3 Little Birds
  9. Follow Your Arrow
  10. My House

Zac Brown Band Proves To Be The Best in the Land

Zac Brown Band
Comcast Theater
Hartford, CT
September 1, 2013

Just in case anyone doubted the live prowess of the Zac Brown Band, they surely set the record straight on Labor Day Weekend in Hartford, Connecticut.  It was a hot, humid and sticky day in New England, but that did not stop people of all ages to fill the Comcast Theater pit, seats, and lawn to the very last spot.  The parking lot was extra rowdy as tailgaters got themselves ready, for what I consider, the best Band in the land. 

Zac and his crew of musical geniuses took to the stage at approximately 8:45 and performed one of the most action packed shows I have ever witnessed.  The summer anthem “Jump Right In” got everyone dancing and singing off the bat and ZBB never looked back.  Armed with a laser light show and stunning visuals on the big screen behind them, every portion of the performance was masterfully executed. 

But as much as the visuals were impressive, the real star of the show was music.  And for anyone who regrettably has not seen Zac Brown Band live yet, they are not your typical country act.  In fact, they are far from it.  What other artist or band out there, who churns out #1 after #1 on country radio, can play just some of their “hits” and the fans are left satisfied?  What other Band can play Metallica, Nirvana, David Gray, Van Morrison and James Taylor covers with such authenticity?  The answer is there is only one. 

And as it such with every ZBB show, Zac is the obvious ring-leader, but makes it known that every member of the Band is equally as important.  From Clay Cook and Coy Bowles’ rousing electric guitar solo’s on “Who Knows” to Jimmy De Martini’s face melting fiddle solo’s on songs like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” to John Driskell Hopskins’ surprising rendition of “Enter Sandman” to Chris Fryar and Daniel De Los Reyes perfection on the percussionist instruments, each member shows how truly superior ZBB is from anyone else in the game today. 

Of course, no show would be complete without ZBB’s signature song, “Chicken Fried”, which produced an eruption of vocal chords all singing in unison from the stage to the very back of the lawn.  Zac was extremely demonstrative with his stern and focused look as he picked and strummed his guitar with intensity. 

What really surprised me and much of the crowd was when the band came out for their encore dressed in glow in the dark skeleton outfits that brought an air of mystery and darkness.  And the song selections fit right with costume stage as they rocked out to “Uncaged”, Led Zeppelin’s “Kasmir” and a stirring rendition of The Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”.  I may get knocked for it, but I think ZBB’s version of the song one ups the original as Jimmy De Martini absolutely destroys any other fiddler I’ve ever seen.

All in all, the Zac Brown Band is the best in the business for my money.  The overall excitement and true appreciation for all genres of music makes them truly unique.  In an age where music acts play the same songs and same setlist night after night, no Zac Brown Band show is like one before.  Simply put, ZBB is the best band in land. 

Setlist:

  1. Intro
  2. Jump Right In
  3. The Wind
  4. As She’s Walking Away
  5. Whiskey’s Gone
  6. Who Knows
  7. Toes
  8. Day For the Dead
  9. Sweet Annie
  10. Colder Weather
  11. Free
  12. Into the Mystic (Van Morrison Cover)
  13. Seven Bridges Road
  14. Babylon (David Gray Cover)
  15. Me & Julio (with Brad Stella)
  16. Love the One You’re With/Iko Iko (with Brad Stella)
  17. All Apologies (Nirvana Cover)
  18. The Frozen Man (James Taylor Cover)
  19. Percussion Solo’s
  20. Keep Me In Mind
  21. Settle Me Down
  22. Highway 20 Ride
  23. Knee Deep
  24. Sic ’em on a Chicken
  25. Goodbye in Her Eyes
  26. Enter Sandman (Metallica Cover)
  27. Chicken Fried
  28. Uncaged
  29. Kashmir (Led Zeppelin Cover)
  30. The Devil Went Down to Georgia (The Charlie Daniels Band Cover)