Zach Bryan’s Super Bowl Weekend Concert Turns Into Epic Sing-Along, Toby Keith Tribute

Zach Bryan’s Super Bowl Weekend Concert Turns Into Epic Sing-Along, Toby Keith Tribute

Music

This may be one of the best weeks ever in the career of country music’s cult hero Zach Bryan.

It began on Sunday (Feb 4), when the 27-year-old singer-songwriter took home his first Grammy Award for best country duo/group performance for “I Remember Everything,” featuring Kacey Musgraves. The following day (Feb. 5) he released a viral video cover of Bon Iver’s “Emma,” which showed his intense musical range, along with a strategically placed American Spirit and Bud Light can. On Tuesday (Feb. 6), the Oklahoma native dropped the video for “Nine Ball,” starring Matthew McConaughey. The next day, his self-titled 2023 album “Zach Bryan” went platinum. And on Friday (Feb. 9), at the Bud Light Backyard Tour, he launched his partnership with Anheuser-Busch during Super Bowl LVIII weekend. The company will sponsor his North American Quittin’ Time arena tour, which starts March 6 at Chicago’s United Center.

In his first live appearance since the Grammy win, Bryan portrayed every bit the gracious, grit–and-drive frontman that his fanatics crave, while endearing himself to the uninitiated who came through to see what the hype is about.

Taking the stage at 11 p.m. on the nose, after a swinging soulful set from Leon Bridges, Bryan electrified the sold-out crowd at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan with his powerful growling chorus on “Open the Gate,” from 2022’s American Heartbreak.

The can-drinking crowd of cowboy hats and boots blended with the leather-jacket-clad emo-country lovers and those geared-up in Chiefs/49ers merch — just as Bryan’s brand of Americana, indie-rock country appeals to all those groups.

From there the setlist bounced between his independent roots and his commercial success. Addressing the sold-out audience for the first time before 2019’s “Godspeed,” he said, “It is such an honor to be after [Leon Bridges]. Thank you so much to Bud Light for having us. You’ve been so kind to us. I do this at every show but I am going to do it. Cheers to Las Vegas, having a good time,” raising his can to the crowd.

During “Overtime,” Bryan got everybody going with a sing-along to the rock-and-roll-driven bluegrass jam session where he took a trip around the stage and ended up with the drum kit. Then, the question of the hour popped up: “Is everyone ready for the Super Bowl?”

Bryan’s energy on stage, his Oklahoma roots — and his ambassadorship into a “new wave of country” — draws recollection to a late ’80s Garth Brooks. And while undoubtedly he is more red dirt in his genre, the showmanship, storytelling and love of varying musical styles runs complementary. It’s also impossible to not get a Bob Dylan nod from the spoken-word riffs on some of his deepest lyrics.

Moving through his recent, yet deep autobiographical catalog, Bryan openly addressed the imprint that his U.S. military background has both on his art and his psychology.

“I was in the Navy for a really, really long time and I wrote this song ‘Tishomingo’ about going home, and I hope you guys don’t hate it,” Brayn said as the stage, awash in red lighting, reminded everyone of the backyard concert vibe that Bud Light wants to evoke.

He then lit the crowd up with a string of new classics “Nine Ball,” “Eastside of Sorrow,” “Dawns” (which elicited the most audience participation of the night), “Highway Boys” and “Quittin’ Time.”

It’s not uncommon for a Zach Bryan show to get a good percentage of the backing track from the audience. Band member Reed “Two Show” Connolly’s banjo solo on “Quittin’ Time,” was one of the highlights of the night as was Bryan’s message to the “Highway Boys,” also known as the band “these guys behind me are my best friends in the entire world … been to about every state together.”

After a five-minute pause, between main set and encore, Bryan and his eight-member band returned for a double-song encore, addressing as country music’s biggest news of the week, a tribute to the late Toby Keith with “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” with the words, “America lost a really important Oklahoma boy this week,” before closing out the almost 90-minute show with “Revival.”

The event marked Bud Light’s expansion into country music and serves as the launchpad for Bud Light Backyard Tour shows throughout 2024 at country music events and festivals across the country, including Stagecoach, CMA Fest and more. In an emotional moment, Bryan shared, “I was in the Navy for eight years … we’ve donated $27 million to Folds of Honor [a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to the families of fallen and disabled service members and first responders]. Starting March, part of every Bud Light sold on tour will be donated to Folds of Honor, and I am going to match it.”

See Bryan’s full setlist below.

“Open the Gate”
“Godspeed”
“Overtime”
“Fifth of May”
“Tishomingo”
“Nine Ball”
“Eastside of Sorrow”
“Dawns”
“Highway Boys”
“Quittin’ Time”
“Condemned”
“Oklahoma Smokeshow”
“Heading South”
“Hey Driver”
“Something in the Orange”
“Burn, Burn, Burn”
“Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” (Toby Keith cover)
“Revival”

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