Zac Brown Band’s first-ever Austin City Limits taping has been a long time coming. On Thursday evening, the eight-piece outfit finally made their debut on the storied TV show after spending 15 years chasing the long white line. Their spirited, career-spanning set included early hits like “Chicken Fried” and efforts from recent albums Welcome Home and Jekyll + Hyde.
Brown appeared relaxed and humbled. After opening with “Homegrown,” he set a warm tone for the evening, inviting the audience to commune with the band during “Family Table.” ZBB is adept at channeling crowd energy and keeping warmth and momentum moving throughout the show.
Occasionally Brown told stories behind the songs, giving fans fresh insight into the ZBB songbook. One such story included the inspiration for “Quiet Your Mind,” which the band wrote in one night while staring at a starry sky contemplating the great beyond.
At their core, this roving band of brothers is a bar band. “Roots,” as Brown explained, is their ode to the smokey bars, musicians and countless miles on the road that formed their career. Those roots have created one of the tightest bands in the business.
If you’ve listened to their records, you already know the band isn’t afraid to try a wide range of musical styles, from EDM to pop. The musicianship on every song, no matter the style, is tight as a timpani, but the emotional connection isn’t always there, and their recent explorations sometimes felt more like an effort rather than a success.
Where the group felt most natural is with their easy-going, country-tinged classics, like “Colder Weather” and “Goodbye in Her Eyes.”
Perhaps even more comfortable for this band are cover songs, which part and parcel to every ZBB live show. Notable covers from this evening included the Wood Brothers’ “The Muse,” John Prine’s “All The Best,” the Allman Brothers “Whipping Post,” and their final encore song, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
Zac Brown Band continues their summer tour with a stop at WE Fest in Wisconsin on Friday (Aug. 4). View a list of their upcoming tour dates here.
Quiet Your Mind
Day That I Die
Free / Into the Mystic
Goodbye in Her Eyes
2 Places at 1 Time
Day for the Dead
My Old Man
All the Best