If you go
Zac Brown Band
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Tickets: $39.50 to $74.50 via Ticketmaster
Info: centurylinkcenteromaha.com or 402-341-1500
Note: CenturyLink Center officials are encouraging concertgoers to arrive early.
Zac Brown Band does not have an opening act, and the band will take the stage at 7 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. As with recent events at the arena,
Friday’s show will have enhanced security screenings.
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Zac Brown Band is a country band. Except when its not.
Surely, songs like “Chicken Fried” and “Whatever It Is” are country songs, but when you listen to “Beautiful Drug” and other songs from the band’s new album, “Jekyll + Hyde,” you’re hearing something completely different.
Zac Brown Band has dipped its toes into Jimmy Buffett-style Gulf & Western with songs like, well, “Toes,” and it’s taken on riff-heavy rock on its Dave Grohl-produced EP “The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1.”
And in concert, its been prone to “left-field forays into EDM territory” (so says Rolling Stone), and its ventured into Dave Matthews Band songs so much the band “wants to be considered a jam band more than they want to call any genre home” (according to Entertainment Weekly).
There’s almost no genre the country stars haven’t tapped.
And they’re not alone. Numerous groups have sidestepped into adjoining genres, some to great success (Taylor Swift, anyone?), while others were something of a disaster. (Who remembers Lil Wayne’s rock album?)
Zac Brown Band
Started as country, ended up a little bit of everything
“Chicken Fried” hits all the best country notes: comfort food, beer, Georgia, sweet tea and plenty of fiddle. Then “Toes” and “Knee Deep” (which features an actual Jimmy Buffett cameo) are all about the beach. “Heavy Is the Head” is straight-up grunge. And in maybe the best example of the band’s movement through genres, “Beautiful Drug” has a literal transition from banjo to synths and drum machine beats.
“Chicken Fried” vs. “Heavy Is the Head”
Started as rock, ended up disco
Led by the brothers Gibb, the Bee Gees played a wide-range of British rock before the band was featured on the soundtrack for the disco movie “Saturday Night Fever.” The band is maybe the most famous example of a group violently changing genres.
“Stayin’ Alive” vs. “Suddenly”
Started as contemporary Christian music, ended up pop
Before she kissed a girl (and liked it), Katy Perry was Katy Hudson. She sang Christian rock songs such as “Faith Won’t Fail” and “Trust in Me.” It’s definitely her singing, but those songs are quite a bit different in style and substance compared to “Dark Horse” or “Roar.”
“California Gurls” vs. “Faith Won’t Fail”
Dave Matthews Band
Started as rock, ended up a jam band
They’re not the Grateful Dead or Phish, but Dave Matthews Band is known for turning its hit songs into 14-minute improvisational jams. And like other jam bands, DMB is known for continually touring and a fan base that likes to compare notes on how many times, when and where they’ve seen the band.
“Crush” vs. “Crush” (Live from Busch Stadium)
Mumford & Sons
Started as folk-rock, ended up alt-rock
It’s initial releases, “Sigh No More” and “Babel,” brought banjo back into the lexicon of popular music, but the band’s latest effort, “Wilder Mind,” dropped the plucky instrument entirely. The Internet freaked out, and the band said it was simply developing its sound without departing from it songwriting style.
“Little Lion Man” vs. “The Wolf”
Started as country, ended up pop
We noticed Taylor slowly inching herself away from her country roots with her 2012 hit album “Red.” Songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” ditched the twang for more of a mass appeal sound. Then she dropped “1989,” considered something of a modern pop masterpiece, and now Taylor Swift is the biggest pop artist in the world.
“Love Story” vs. “Shake It Off”
Started as hip-hop, ended up reggae (and went back to hip-hop)
One day, he was no longer Snoop Dogg. He was Snoop Lion. Snoop took a trip to Jamaica, became a Rastafarian and recorded a new reggae album, “Reincarnated.” It didn’t last long. Less than two years later, he released “Bush” as Snoop Dogg.
“Drop It Like It’s Hot” vs. “Harder Times”
Started as punk, ended up hip-hop
When the trio formed in Brooklyn, it was as a hardcore punk band. Their one and two-minute songs are reminiscent of Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. But they eventually began incorporating more rap into their sets until they were a full-on hip-hop group.
“Egg Raid on Mojo” vs. “Sabotage”
Started as screamo, ended up EDM
Before the side shave and the bass drops, Sonny Moore was the lead singer of screamo and post-hardcore band From First to Last. He made two albums with the band before ditching them for a solo career and deciding to pursue electronic music. It was a good move. Since becoming Skrillex, he’s won eight Grammy Awards and sold more than 5 million digital singles.
“Emily” vs. “Bangarang”
Started as pop-rock, ended up country
Has one artist ever been this successful in two genres? Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View” is the 19th best selling album of all time in the United States. (With 16 million sold, it beats classics like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Legend.”) And then frontman Darius Rucker turned country and has since charted six No. 1 tunes on Billboard’s hot country songs chart.
“I Go Blind” vs. “Alright”
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Reviews of the Zac Brown band tour
Zac Brown Band’s 52-show tour was one of the top tours in North America last year. It ranked at No. 16 on Pollstar’s list of the top 200 concert tours with more than 858,000 tickets sold and grossing $45.2 million.
We rounded up some reviews from the tour.
Zac Brown and his band of nimble-fingered shredders never shy away from taking risks and don’t back down from broadening an already exceedingly eclectic sonic palette. ... It was an ambitious show, rife with a head-spinning variety of sounds highlighted by vivid visuals, but not necessarily the type of loose, down-home, spontaneous shred-fest ZBB faithful have come to expect. ... This is Brown and company’s biggest tour to date, and they want to make a statement: that they want to be, and can be, a million feel-good things to a million feel-good people.
— Rolling Stone
(Brown) doesn’t gab. In a 150-minute set, he jams for about 143 of them. So when he takes pause after the show-opening “Sweet Annie” to let New York know what a privilege it is to play for them or to thank the military servicemen and women after “Dress Blues” or, a particular highlight, when he teaches the crowd the chorus of “Tomorrow Never Comes” off his new collection and then quips, “Now let’s sing this ... like we mean it,” it’s to rapturous, welcome praise.
— Entertainment Weekly
Zac Brown Band uses a different setlist for each of their performances, and the players find out what it is not long before the show. That keeps it spontaneous, fun and fresh. While this particular show ended up being more of a country set, the energy was more diverse and rockin’ at times as well. Everyone at The Hollywood Bowl had fun and loved the country theme that night.
— LA Music Blog
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Can’t get enough ZBB?
Pretty much everyone in the Zac Brown Band is involved in extracurricular musical activity, from the group’s namesake on down. We took a look at their various solo and side projects.
The bandleader is the band’s chief songwriter, so most of the group’s songs are his creations. But he has done some solo work, including the song “Grandma’s Garden.” Brown wrote the song about growing up in the South, and it appeared on the compilation album “Southern Family,” along with tunes by Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton and others.
John Driskell Hopkins
Hopkins formed the band Brighter Shade in 1996 and released two albums. Since becoming a founding member of the Zac Brown Band, Hopkins has released a pair of solo albums: “Daylight,” with his band Balsam Range, and “In the Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays,” with The Atlanta Pops Orchestra.
In 2011, Bowls released a solo album, “Love Takes Flight,” on the band’s record label, Southern Ground. Jason Isbell plays guitar on the record, and bandmates Clay Cook and John Driskell Hopkins appear on the record, too.
A pal of John Mayer’s, Cook co-wrote songs such as “No Such Thing,” “Comfortable,” “Man on the Side” and “Neon” with the pop singer/guitarist. He has also released several solo albums including one, “North Star,” since joining the Zac Brown Band.