It’s hard to pin point the exact moment when you really, truly fall in love with a piece of music. It’s hard to decipher the exact moment when you hear a song, learn about a band or hear a note and suddenly, you’re swept away. You’re captured, lost and fully ‘in’ the moment with that song.
Dave and I had been following our favorite bands for almost a decade. Like lots of others who are self proclaimed music lovers and band aids we drive, fly and venture from city to city never getting enough of chasing that perfect song and medley that never grows old to our ears. When we saw that Zac Brown Band was coming to California for their Black Out the Sun tour we immediately bought tickets to see the band in both Irvine and LA.
Saturday night we drove to Laguna Beach to spend the day in the cozy ocean city before heading inland to Irvine. Since we generally spend our concert experiences line waiting, waiting for the front row, it was nice to have a relaxing pre-show day spent having brunch and meandering around the busy little city. We headed to the venue early so that we could even spend some time tailgating, something we love to do but again, rarely get the opportunity for because of our love for the front.
As soon as we entered the gates of Irvine Meadows, it was quite clear we weren’t at a DMB show. The gravel parking lot was filled with cowboy boots, jean shorts and flannel shirts. American Flags danced to the beat of the county tunes that blasted from pick up trucks. Dave is in denial that ZBB is considered a country band so it was humorous for me to point out these things and ask if he still thinks they aren’t country. Ha!
The sun began to set, cooling off the hot California summer air. We made our way inside the venue and found our seats. Not bad, dead center in the second section up. Dave and I made it to our seats just in time as the band hit their opening chords to Whiskey’s Gone. The stage lights lit up the sky, the crowd roared and the band’s electric energy shot through Irvine Meadows. Zac and his spirited band rocked their way through some of their hits such as Homegrown, Castaway and Remedy before taking it back and covering the Eagles’ famous “Hotel California.” How fitting for us West Coast kids.
It was then, during the electric and acoustic break that Dave and I decided we wanted to make our way a little closer to the front. We had made friends with a security guard who let us in on some trade secrets of the venue, which we put to good use. Dave led the way and in we went, down to the front for the last half of the show.
Zac led the way through a power-driven second half of the show, rocking songs from their Jekyll and Hyde album and of course, all the older albums that help drive them to where they are now. They even paid tribute to the late great, Minnesota legend, Prince with a rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” complete with purple lights flashing and his Symbol flashing across the stage.
My favorite part of any Zac Brown Band show is always the final song, “Chicken Fried” when they march a military personal out on stage, who salutes and gets showered in cheers. There’s not denying my eyes fill up with tears as you watch these strong men and women beam with pride in this moment. I have always loved that the band supports the military, and this is just one tiny way they show their support for a local military person.
Concert blues always set in immediately after that last note ends and the house lights come on. Luckily for me, we had night 2 the following night in L.A. and little did I know, it would be so much better than tonight’s show.