JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
Fun fact about Zac Brown – you know that song “Colder Weather” that he plays? He wrote that at the Shoemakers Truck Stop off of NW 56th and West ‘O’ Street. Of all the country shows in Nebraska on Saturday, February 29, 2020, I was glad I had the chance to get to see Zac Brown Band at Pinnacle Bank Arena as they lit up the stage with special guests Amos Lee along with Poo Bear and Sasha Sirota. While I didn’t get to meet him and compare beards (which I’m sure he would’ve appreciated), it was still one hell of a performance as Zac and his boys pelted us with a little over two hours of music and one hell of a light show.
Sasha Sirota and Poo Bear were the first to the stage, and while I wasn’t permitted to photograph either artist (musicians are like Pokemon in that regard – you try to catch em’ all – but sometimes rules is rules), they both put on an energetic showing while people continued to flood into the arena for their seats. Poo Bear came out on the last track, and the people standing in the front row really seemed to be getting into it.
Amos Lee was next, and let me tell you, this kid is going to have to start putting an “F” in front of his name, because he’s going places. Amos is exactly what you get when Matt Damon and Jack Johnson have a baby, and I wasn’t mad about it at all. His most memorable track of the night was “Sweet Pea,” which, he told the audience, he wrote in a bit of a down state in a hotel in Germany. “Then,” he told the arena patrons, “I got a beautiful Mexican woman, some tequila, and a guitar. And if you’re feeling down, there really ain’t no better combination to get you back up than that.” Lee played a full set filled with soul-inspired, well-oiled tracks which were beautifully sung. If you’re looking for a party country artist, this is not your guy. But if you’re in the mood to hear a man bear his soul through guitar strings – he’s definitely your guy. Check him out if you haven’t already on Spotify or Apple Music – one of my new favorites for sure.
After a brief interlude, Zac Brown Band came thundering to the stage looking like a tropical paradise had just blown into the Midwest. Images of palm trees and bright blue skies were displayed throughout the panoramic backdrops as the boys opened with a few of their hits, including “Toes.” Brown played in his trademark tall-brimmed cap, and the other seven took their places to begin the show.
One of the highlights of the show for me was the drum-off between members Daniel De Los Reyes and Chris Fryar. They each began playing separate things, and then joined together to play in unison, which was a pretty cool display of such talented percussion players.
A while ago, Brown dropped an album called, “The Controversy,” that had fans puzzled as to whether or not he was departing from country music altogether, and I have to admit that for a country show, it was peppered with more cover songs than I had anticipated, and not the kind of country covers that I would’ve anticipated. After he sang his mega-hit single “Chicken Fried,” during which he had a giant American flag fly over a few servicemen standing at attention which caused the entire arena to cheer the loudest they had all evening, the encore was a little strange.
The encore was all covers, starting with, “Respect,” followed by a few hip hop covers by Post Malone and ended the night with a rendition of “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem, sang entirely by Jimmy De Martini. It had me wondering if this was the direction that country music was going given the resurgence of cover songs in pop-punk and rock music lately, or if it was just something relatable the audience could sing along to at the show – hearing a song done by a great performer. But the crowd didn’t seem to mind the covers. Zac Brown continues to be one of the most beloved Southern Country artists in Nebraska, and with the work he does for charity, the troops, and the communities he encounters, I’m sure he could have covered a number of tracks and gotten away with it. Overall, it was a wonderful show filled with some of the best light displays I’ve ever seen that left us all a little more chicken fried than we were when we arrived.
Zac Brown Band