Concert Review: Zach Bryan @ MVP Arena, 05/26/2023
MVP Arena hosted one of the biggest live music events of the year on Friday night. Zach Bryan brought his “Burn, Burn, Burn Tour” to town for a sold-out performance. I have been to sold-out shows at this arena before. This was not like the others. Every seat in the upper and lower levels was filled. The stage was situated in the center of the arena, with a general admission pit surrounding it on all four sides. There was an absolute sea of humanity surrounding that stage. When he visited last year, Luke Combs had a similar setup, but this general admission crowd just seemed more significant. Fans started lining up around 4pm for the 8pm show.
Bryan has been on an incredible run over the past few years. He has gone from playing small clubs to being a part of Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival to headlining arenas, all in the past four years. He released his self-recorded debut in 2019, made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 2021, and released his major label debut in May 2022. Bryan is a testament to the power of hard work, streaming, and touring. The majority of his success has come without support from traditional country radio.
On Friday night, he took the stage at the center of the arena and took his fans on a two-hour journey. Bryan and his band bounded to the stage like fighters approaching the ring. Once they hit the stage, they kicked into “Open the Gates” from 2022’s “American Heartbreak.” Bryan deftly maneuvered to all four sides of the stage, never staying in one place too long. The stage was draped with strings of lights that stretched from the rafters to the enormous video screens that sat high above the stage. He played twenty-two songs in total, with a majority coming from “American Heartbreak,” which was released almost a year to the day before this show. Halfway through the show, he played two of his more popular songs back to back. “Oklahoma Smokeshow” segued into “Something in the Orange.” The latter has been picked up by country radio and has become a radio hit, although Bryan doesn’t seem concerned with making “hits.” Everything the guy writes is a winner. The main set was closed with a scorching version of “Burn, Burn, Burn.” He returned for a one-song encore, bringing his opening act out to rip through “Revival” before saying goodnight to the Albany crowd.
Bluegrass band Trampled By Turtles opened up with a spirited set. Their sound is similar to that of Greensky Bluegrass and the Infamous Stringdusters.