Live Review: Zac Brown Band at Stagecoach 2013
The setting: The final show on the final night of Stagecoach 2013. Cooler breezes were kicking up, the harder partiers had retreated for the most part, and the vibe was one of a great, big block party. At least one where the beer and food stands were shutting down.
The takeaway: Heading over from the Palomino stage, where Charlie Daniels and band were still wailing on an Allman Brothers / Santana-style exploration, the first chords of the Zac Brown Band's hit "Keep Me In Mind" were filling the Mane stage area, followed right up by "As She's Walking Away."
First thought was that this might be a hit-driven set. The band may have enough to pull that off. But as they dug in and did a little jamming, it really didn't take long at all to disabuse one of that notion. This began to feel like something more interesting than sing-alongs.
Brown and band clearly came to party, though their version of a party is to reveal an impressive ability to incorporate and even mimic classic songs by other artists throughout their setlist. Total music nerds, these guys, finding their inner Phish and making for quite a memorable night of music in the process.
A letter-perfect cover of Dave Matthews' "Ants Marching" merged in several bars of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," to great effect. A verse from Dylan's "Blowing In The Wind" lead into "The Wind." Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" blended into a cover of John Mayer's "Neon." Van Morrison's "Into The Mystic" found a home in "Free."
Near the end of the show, two more letter-perfect covers took shape. For those that missed the end of Charlie Daniels' set, the band nailed "Devil Went Down To Georgia," and in case that wasn't impressive enough, pulled off a stunning take on Metallica's "Enter Sandman," with Brown's bass player John Driskell Hopkins (who on screen bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmeister) on vocals.
All of this isn't to say the band needs any crutches to spruce up their setlist. Steeped in rich harmonies and hummable choruses, Brown's deep catalog of hits presents plenty of radio touchpoints points in the show. But for Brown and band, the hits are just the the tip of the iceberg.
A full show in, one gets the sense this is a band with a lot of musical heroes and teachers, and they're still hungry to figure more out. And for fellow music nerds in the audience, this writer included, that's a great band to spend some time with.
Keep Me In Mind
As She's Walking Away
Ants Marching (Dave Matthews Band cover)
Neon (John Mayer cover) / Isn't She Lovely (Stevie Wonder cover)
It's Not OK
Free / Into the Mystic (Van Morrison cover)
Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)
Jump Right In
Goodbye In Her Eyes
4 - Columbia, SC - Williams-Brice Stadium (w/Kenny Chesney)
8-10 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre
12 - Napa, CA - BottleRock Napa Valley
26 - Baton Rouge, LA - Bayou Country Superfest
6 - Nashville, TN - CMA Music Festival
7 - Maryland Heights, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre St. Louis
8 - East Troy, WI - Alpine Valley Music Theatre
9 - Noblesville, IN - Klipsch Music Center
21 - Raleigh, NC - Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion
22 - Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion
23 - Darien Center, NY - Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
5 - Ottawa, Ontario - RBC Bluesfest
6, 7 - Gilford, NH - Meadowbrook
12 - Minneapolis, MN - Target Field (w/ Kenny Chesney)
19 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center
20 - Burgettstown, PA - First Niagara Pavilion
21 - Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center
3 - Atlanta, GA - Georgia Dome (w/ Kenny Chesney)
17 - Bethel, NY - Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
30 - Toronto, Ontario - Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
1 - Hartford, CT - Comcast Theatre
27, 28 - Nashville, TN - Zac Brown\'s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival