March 26, 2017
Coincidentally enough, I became a Zac Brown Band fan two years ago during their set at RodeoHouston. I was familiar with the band’s biggest hits – tunes like “Chicken Fried” and “Colder Weather” – but had never really explored their catalog or had much interest in doing so. But after they wowed a sold-out crowd that night at NRG Stadium, I tore through every ZBB album in succession and was instantly hooked.
So it came as little surprise that ZBB closed out RodeoHouston with a great set on Sunday night before a jam-packed crowd of more than 70,000 fans. Zac Brown and his stable of bandmates took the stage around 6:45 and immediately jumped into “Homegrown.” From there, the band transitioned into a pair of fun, uptempo tracks – “Knee Deep” and “As She’s Walking Away.”
The second-best highlight of the night (we’ll get to the best in a bit) came when ZBB busted out “Sweet Annie.” The song – in my opinion the band’s best single – tells the tale of life on the road, of love, loss and regret. It’s also catchy as hell, which is why most of the crowd at NRG sang along in unison.
Mixed in with the old was the new, including a pair of tracks from the band’s upcoming release, Welcome Home. Those were the band’s two lead singles – “My Old Man” and “Real Thing” – the former of which likely had more than a few folks at RodeoHouston on Sunday night calling their dads immediately after the show to express their love (yep, it’s that kinda song).
The highlight of the evening, however, came immediately after that cover, when ZBB closed their hourlong, 13-song set with their most popular track, “Chicken Fried.” That included a military service member onstage in full salute, which drew a well-deserved ovation from the crowd. It was a fitting end to a fitting show that provided a stellar end to yet another successful RodeoHouston season.
Personal Bias: I’m a single dad, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was a bit heartbroken that ZBB held “Highway 20 Ride” from their set list on Sunday night. It may not be their best song, but for me, it’s by far the most personal.
Mutton Bustin’ Report: Props to little Raul Cortez for winning the Mutton Bustin’ Battle of Champions, whereupon all 19 winners from this year’s rodeo gathered for one last go-round. Raul wasn’t much for a postgame interview, so maybe he’s the Marshawn Lynch of Mutton Bustin’ – lets his play do the talking.
As She’s Walking Away
Tomorrow Never Comes
Keep Me in Mind
My Old Man
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)