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Zac Brown Band: ‘Knee Deep’ in ‘Chicken Fried’ talent—REVIEW

blog by Kathryn Przybyla  • 

It’s clear that Western New Yorkers like their chicken fried.

Zac Brown and his partners in crime invaded Darien Lake with some good old southern sound, playing an incredible show Saturday night. “Uncaged,” “Toes” and “It’s Not OK” opened the show with a mix of up-beat and sing-along tracks.

Bass guitarist, John Driskell Hopkins and his deep and soulful voice just completely owned the latter song, which is a nice change from Brown’s higher pitched and upbeat vocals. He is the epitome of a southern rocker. Obviously, this is my favorite song to sing along to in the car.


“As She’s Walking Away,” “No Hurry,” and a cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” slowed things down to a mid-tempo feel, before playing one of the band’s biggest hits, “Colder Weather.”

“What an amazing crowd, the biggest choir in all of New York is here tonight,” Brown exclaimed before leading the audience in a rendition of one of their newest songs, “Jump Right In.” “Keep Me In Mind” finished off the first part of the show before a mini-break from the group. Hey, I would get tired too from playing my heart out on all these complicated songs.

A t-shirt cannon was brought out, as band members shot “ZBB” attire into the audience. An unlucky fan in the 200 section had their beer hit, straight on with what looked to be a Blue Light can, spraying the crowd.

Opener Levi Lowrey joined the band on stage again for a jam session-like part of the show, playing Lowrey’s “Wherever We Break Down” followed by “All Apologies” and a harmonized cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”


“Free/Into the Mystic,” one of Zac Brown Band‘s most popular songs gave fans a taste of the Van Morrison track with a southern flair. “Who Knows” and “Knee Deep” had the entire audience singing along before the final song.

If there is one thing I gathered from my first Zac Brown Band experience, it is that Jimmy De Martini is a boss.

The fiddle player and back-up vocalist for the group wowed the crowd from the very first chord, with speed I had never before seen on a violin. The audience was clapping along to every fiddle solo, especially the Charlie Daniels cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”—which was seemingly written for guys like De Martini to play.


An encore of drum solos, “Whiskey’s Gone,” “America the Beautiful” and “Chicken Fried” ended what to me felt like the perfect Darien Lake show.

Keeping the VIP crowd entertained while traffic left the venue, Buffalo’s own “The Heritage” played a variety of covers for people looking to keep the party going. Johnny Cash, Zac Brown Band, and other favorites were heard from the side tent near the stage. A surprise for the small crowd, John Driskell Hopkins even made an appearance and joined The Heritage on stage for a couple songs with the guys.

Overall, it was another fine night of good music and fun in Western New York. By the time I left the show, traffic had eased and I didn’t have too much trouble making my way back to Amherst. My last Darien Lake show of the season, I was pleasantly impressed with this year’s line-up of incredible talent. Looking forward to next year and can’t wait to see who they bring to the Buffalo area next.

TAGGED: concert review, darien lake, georgia, jimmy de martini, john driscoll hopkins, levi lowrey, southern ground, the heritage, zac brown band, zbb

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