“We’ve learned Zac Brown fans like all kinds of music,” said the frontman of the alt-rock band Elliot Root toward the end of their 30-minute set last night at Blossom where they opened for Zac Brown Band.
Brown and fans would prove that statement to be true.
As Brown and his nine-piece band strolled unassumingly onto the stage, Brown, decked out in a black top hat and faded blue jeans, simply nodded in approval to the revelers in the small pit in front of the stage. Brown clearly embraces his fans need to party hearty and that undoubtedly influenced the songs the band decided to play during a crowd-pleasing two-a-half-hour (with a 15-minute intermission) concert. You would be hard-pressed to find a better band to kick off the outdoor summer concert season.
Playing on a giant two-tiered stage that found the band’s drummer and percussionist atop the second-story tier, Brown and co. started things off with“Homegrown,” the single from their new studio album, Jeckyll + Hyde
. It showcased harmony vocals and horns and could've passed as a Tom Petty tune. With a bit of mandolin in the mix, “Knee Deep” had just the right amount of twang and so did “Keep Me In Mind,” a song that featured acoustic guitar and fiddle.
While Brown caters to a country crowd, he and his band played a bit of everything. And we do mean everything
. They covered Charlie Daniels’ Band redneck anthem “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” offered up a grunge-y rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and paid tribute to the Marshall Tucker Band with an epic rendition of “Can’t You See.” And that’s not to mention covers of songs by Metallica, Queen and the Foo Fighters. While the rendition of “Can’t You See” meandered a bit mid-song, the choice of cover songs showed the band’s range. These guys can play anything by anyone. Their cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was spot-on and even included a video treatment that was a send-up of the original music video.
Admittedly, Brown sometimes catered too much to the crowd. With its reference to sitting on the beach drinking, “Castaway” came off as the kind of tune you might hear in a Corona commercial. And ballads such as “One Day” and “Loving You Easy” were rather sentimental and bland. Brown introduced the saccharine pop tune “Beautiful Drug” by saying “bounce with us” and the band proceeded to pump up the bass to get the crowd riled up. It worked, but it seemed like a rather cheap trick.
Ultimately, the group’s musical dexterity was undeniable, and fans really responded favorably to its ability to draw from so many different musical genres, a rarity these days when most popular musical groups adhere strongly to one sound and stick with it.