This past weekend I attended the Zac Brown Band show and it was the first time I made the trip out to First Niagara Pavilion to see a concert. Strange to think, I know. I was a little apprehensive, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about what a pain it is getting in and out of there and most of them were true. I actually got lost going out there and took a detour, plus the traffic just getting to the point where you can get lost is trouble in and of itself.
But once you get past the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere, First Niagara Pavilion turns into an awesome venue. The stage is huge and offers a lot of options for artists to use it in different ways- something Zac Brown Band took full advantage of during their show with flashing lights, narrative images on the big screen, as well as a live concert projection for those of us hanging out in the lawn. The giant lawn opens things up and gives people room to breath and the acoustics are fantastic. No matter where I was throughout the night I could clearly hear everything coming from the stage. Unfortunately I missed opening act Levi Lowrey because of my little detour getting out there, but when Zac Brown Band finally took the stage everyone was itching to get the night started.
The cool thing about Zac Brown is that he has this uncanny ability to stretch across a wide range of topics and niches. He’s country to the bone there’s no doubt about that. But he’s also got some Jimmy Buffet-Beach Bum in him and that Beard-Beanie trademark screams (pun intended) aspects of hard rocking metal. This all-encompassing genre medley is seemingly effortless for him and his band as they rolled through song after song for over two hours. Just take a gander at some of the covers they played: snippets of Bob Marley’s “One Love,” John Mayer’s “Neon” (pre Born and Raised, country-ish Mayer), Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, and a fast-paced rendition of the Charlie Daniels Band’s “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” It’s such an odd assortment of songs, and would definitely be an iTunes playlist fail in theory.
But Brown strings reggae, classic rock, metal, and back-woods country in a manner that comes across so naturally authentic, which is what makes him such a mass appeal. One look at the crowd and you can see the people there were just as diverse as the set list. There were rowdy Marlboro men, hard rockers, hippies, borderline Parrotheads- all thrown together with families and people just looking to have a good time and see a great show-something everyone can agree on. If you asked me to describe the show in one word I would honestly say “chill”, in the best urbandictionary definition possible. People hung out on the lawn, danced, and had a blast. The crowd couldn’t get enough, and Brown delivered with a stacked show full of jam sessions and a 25 song set list. It got to the point where I was checking my phone to see what time it was because I thought he’d never get off the stage.
Plus Brown loves Pittsburgh, look he specifically says he means it:
Pittsburgh was ON IT tonight. Can’t wait to come back. Love you. Mean it.
— Zac Brown Band (@zacbrownband) July 21, 2013
So to all of the other cities that Zac Brown has loved in the past, HE DIDN’T MEAN IT.
- Jump Right In
- Whiskey’s Gone
- Settle Me Down
- Highway 20 Ride
- Where The Boat Leaves From/One Love
- One Day
- As She’s Walking Away
- Neon/Isn’t She Lovely (John Mayer cover)
- Free/Into the Mystic (Van Morrison cover)
- Seven Bridges Road
- Babylon (David Gray cover)
- Day That I Die
- Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
- The Frozen Man (James Taylor cover with Percussion solos)
- Keep Me in Mind
- Colder Weather
- Knee Deep
- The Wind
- Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)
- Goodbye In Her Eyes
- Chicken Fried
- Kashmir (Led Zeppelin cover-short version)
- The Devil Went Down to Georgia (The Charlie Daniels Band cover)
Thanks to the awesome fan in attendance who took this really clear, great quality video (unlike most self-shot concert videos) of “Knee Deep.”