The summer sun beat in through the lightly shaded windows around six am Sunday morning. I was sticky from the humid LA air already and I had barely opened my eyes. Fabulous. I nudged Dave and told him we had better get a move on. This wasn’t our first line waiting experience and we didn’t want to lose any chances at being first. Sometimes, it’s never even enough to be the first few in line, it’s the feeling when you are absolutely first that adds bonus adrenaline to the excitement of the day.
Though we have had plenty of experience camping out for bands, it’s still always hard to gauge the crowd that’s to be expected for certain bands. This was one. I wasn’t sure at all what to expect and was a little nervous to find out. The Zamily, the Zac Brown Band fan club, offers early admission for members but we weren’t sure how intense that line would be.
The band took us to Englewood, a not so elegant area of Los Angeles for this show. We had been to this venue once before and I was not a fan of the neighborhood. Though the streets are run down, the venue itself has been newly renovated and is quite a treat to see a show in. Even the bathrooms are pretty- which is saying something about a music venue!
We watched the crew set up, move and re-set merchandise tents, wine tents and the Fan appreciation BBQ. We had crew laugh that we were there all day long and made friends with security guards and venue managers. The best part of line waiting, is the interaction with the roadies. You often find they are so chill and down to earth, and not above sharing a bottle of water when you’re dying of thirst in the hot sun.
Early in the afternoon a second group of fans showed up. We quickly found out, Anthony, had mutual friends as us and was a fellow Dave Matthews Band lover. A New Yorker, he had made the cross country journey just to see the band. He follows Zac the way we follow Dave. Along with his two friends from Arizona, the five of us wasted the hours chatting about life, music and what nots.
Hours later, when they finally moved the Zamily line to right in front of the doors and were prepping to let us in, my heart was beating faster than ever. It was the adrenaline rush I crave- the blood rushing through your body with the know, that soon, you’ll be right in front of your favorite band, singing along with them, sharing a smile and dancing to every beat they produce. There’s no feeling for me quite like the one right before the highly anticipated rail run.
Having been to the show the night before, we knew the stage layout and had pre-selected where we wanted to go. Being the first ones in line, we should have our selection of any spot in the venue, however, the nerves are never released until my hands wrap about that cold, steel, rail. You just never know what could go wrong.
As soon as the doors opened, I raced inside, dashed down the long low lit hallway, and scrambled down the flights of stairs until I reached the pit, all the way ushers and security urging me to slow down. After my ticket was checked and the wrist band slapped on my wrist I was finally relieved. We selected our spot and cheered as we saw our new friends get their favorite spot as well. Usually a stage left kind of gal, we opted for stage right for Zac Brown Band, which turned out favorably for us.
A concert wouldn’t be a concert and a pit wouldn’t be a pit if there weren’t “those” fans. You know, the ones that come in last minute and find any and every excuse to push their way to the front. The fans that show up right before the house lights go down and expect everyone to just step aside because, “it’s GA.” Well, I’m not buying it. Of course, it didn’t take long before I had a couple of “those” fans grabbing on my back and trying to sneak in front of me. No way! As much as they pleaded with us, we weren’t budging and they quickly backed off, for now.
The lights dimmed, the house music went quiet and the crowd erupted. It was time! The theater flooded as the sweet sounds of “Homegrown” took over our ears, and the band appeared before us. They were so smiley, so happy you couldn’t help but smile yourself and instantly start dancing as their groovy sounds swept through your body. “I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t..” Zac sang as I smiled at Dave. Here we were again. Ready to spend another magical evening at one of “our bands'” shows. There is not place else I would rather be.
One of my favorite things about being up close (aside from a can’t be beat view) is the interaction you are able to have with the band. They way they acknowledge their fans, smile at them, shake their hands- takes nothing from them and makes the show for the fans. Tonight’s set included personal favorites of mine such as “Tomorrow Never Comes”, “Free”, “I’ll Be Your Man” and of course, their tribute to the late great artist formerly known as Prince.
Dave and I were having a blast. Singing and dancing our hearts out. So much so, that the camera guy noticed and flashed us on the screen for all to see. We were so lucky that our new friends from the line were able to snap a photo of that moment for us to have as a keepsake.
Nearing the end of the set, the band played the emotional “Colder Weather” in which Zac took in every single moment of the cheering crowd and got emotional himself. You could see the tears begin to fall as he quickly wiped them from his eyes. The tender moment of raw emotion from an artist is so humbling, they are all human too after all. I love to be reminded that behind the words of these sad, love songs are real human emotion from the man who wrote them. These are words from his soul and heart- exposed for a roaring audience to hear, love and sing-a-long with.
Immediately after, I could barely wipe the tears from my own eyes when the band threw me another bit of emotion and played their first single “Chicken Fried.” “May freedom forever fly, let it ring. Salute the one’s who died, the one’s gave their life..” Zac sings those words and I immediately feel the goosebumps forming. Out from the side stage, marches a U.S Army Soldier – center stage, saluting and feeling the outpour of love from the band and the audience. The band stops playing momentarily so that the solider can truly take in this magical moment. As I’m screaming and clapping, tears are rolling down my cheeks, I love this part of a ZBB show. It get’s me every single time.
After a short break, the band reappears for an encore. They played two songs before Zac addressed the crowd. He told a joke about the band breaking up and in that time they recruited “Dave” to their band. Suddenly, out of side stage walks the one, the only, Dave Grohl, front man of the Foo Fighters and overall badass. Immediately, my Dave and I look at each other and begin screaming. We both love Dave Grohl and since his band is currently on a break from touring we assumed it would be a few tours seasons before we had the chance to see him again. What a wonderful surprise this was! Dave Grohl and ZBB did a cover of “Live and Let Die” before embracing in a big hug. Dave left the stage and the band ended with a bang, leaving us with “Beautiful Drug” and of course, the fans wanting more.
What. A. Show! What a show and what a weekend. There is no place like being at “your bands” shows. It’s like church. It’s therapeutic to the soul, feeds you positive energy and give you endorphins thus making you happy beyond belief. There is nothing that can shake the magic of singing along side your favorite rockstars.
We left LA happy campers. Griping a set list, guitar pics and memories that won’t fade anytime soon.
“And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”