Garth Brooks and The Deadly Red Bull

A few weeks ago we went to one of six Garth Brooks shows in Sacramento. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of music in general… and I believe the best test of how good (or bad) an artist is is to see them perform live. I went into the Garth Brooks experience trying to temper my expectations. After all, he was “in his prime” twenty years ago and for most people, the voice starts to age. Garth was absolutely amazing… he sounded like the Garth Brooks of old and I was completely amazed by his energy… we actually saw him at his second show in one night! He sang all of his old songs… something that really makes me happy because I hate going to see an artist and all you hear is new music that you can’t sing along to!

There was a bit of a disaster, however. You see, for Lent this year I gave up soda… and the concert we were attending started at 10:30pm. I decided that I would try something new and have a Red Bull, to help me stay awake. Well, I was definitely awake… but unfortunately it severely upset my stomach. So much so that we ended up having to leave early, taking our friends with us. Thankfully they were super understanding, but I not only felt physically awful, but bad that they had to miss out on part of an amazing show. Note to self… that stuff is definitely not healthy and I will definitely not be drinking it again!

Willie Nelson

This past Saturday Mike and I headed to the Greek Theater at UC Berkeley to see Willie Nelson. I was really excited about this show because I’ve always loved Willie’s voice. I grew up hearing my dad and his band play Willie’s songs. As it turns out, it was a pretty disappointing show. We got there a little late, but the first band (Shovels & Rope) was actually pretty good. The second band (Drive-By Truckers) was terrible. Like singing off key and instruments out of tune terrible.

When Willie came out, he kicked off his set with “Whiskey River”. From the very first note it was clear that his voice is definitely not what it used to be. He was never really a strong singer, but he definitely could carry a tune… basically every song he did the “sing-talk” thing. It was kinda sad and disappointing, but then again he’s 81 years old.

The Greek, on the other hand, was a pretty cool venue. It’s an 8,500 person outdoor amphitheater with a very cool vibe. The weather was beautiful (although it got a little windy) and the sound was pretty good!

The Greek Theater
The Greek Theater

All in all, the night was a bit of a bust. We left early because we had stuff to do the next day. Like 5 songs into Willie’s set early. Boo.

Zac Brown Band 2013 Tour

I know that I’ve been terrible about posting lately, but life has been super busy. When I’m not working (I spent two days in Oregon this week), I’m running (it was peak week – I knocked out 40 miles, including a 22 miler yesterday!). I know, excuses, excuses.

I did manage to fit in a concert this week – I entered a raffle at work and won tickets to see the Zac Brown Band in the Intel Suite! Obviously, I love country music, but this went so far beyond my expectations.

Brig & I At ZBB
Brig & I At ZBB

I’ll start with the bad part of the show… the opening act, Niko Moon. He even has a crappy web page. He’s a rocker, but not like country rock. Rock rock. Which really felt odd – in fact, there were even some boos from the crowd (who came decked out in plaid, cowboy hats, and cowboy boots). You could hardly understand the words to his songs and it completely rubbed me the wrong way.

Zac Brown, on the other hand, was phenomenal. I always judge a band by how well they play live. And man, can they play live. His band includes seven members (two drummers/percussionists, two guitarists, a violinist, a bassist, and of course, Zac Brown). Each of them is absolutely amazing at their instrument and almost all of them stepped out to play something that wasn’t their main instrument. Mid-show they did a great acoustic set that showcased their absolutely perfect harmonies. Some of the jamming they did was spectacular – not only did they play like crazy, but you felt like they were seriously having fun. And like you were a part of their jam session.

Not only did I love their music, but they did some amazing covers including “Enter Sandman” (seriously, a country band that kicks ass on a Metallica song?!), the Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road”, and James Tayor’s “Frozen Man”.

However, their encore was quite possibly the best encore I’ve ever seen a band do. They came out and started with “Uncaged” from their new album by the same title. As that song drew to an end, it just sort of morphed into Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. Like an amazing version of it. From there it morphed into one of the fastest, most impressive versions of Charlie Daniels’ “Devil Went Down To Georgia” that I’ve ever heard. It was absolutely amazing.

I will definitely be seeing the Zac Brown Band again – they’re like the Dave Matthews Band but countrified. If they come to a city near you, it’s definitely worth the price of a ticket!

Don’t Fear The Reaper, DMB Style

Yesterday I met up with Sean, Erin, and Clarissa for the Dave Matthews Band 2013 Summer Tour at Shoreline Amphitheater. If you ever get a chance to see him live, do it. I had an absolute blast!

My DMB Peeps
My DMB Peeps

As always, it was an amazing show. What I love most about DMB is that lawn seats are all you need. You take a blanket, have a beer, and just relax and listen to the music. His songs morph into these epic jam sessions and his in-between songs banter is absolutely hilarious.


He played “Crush” (my favorite song), but I think one of the best moments if the show was their cover of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult. All I could think about the entire time was “needs more cowbell”! It was a seriously good cover. I always judge a band by how well they play live since we all know what kind of magic the folks in recording studios can work. DMB is honestly one of those groups that I think is way better live than on a recording. There’s something amazing about a very talented group of people coming together to just make music!

Beat This Summer

Last weekend I met up with my friend Amber and headed out to see Brad Paisley‘s Beat This Summer Tour at the Sleep Train Amphitheater. I love going there and getting lawn seats… there’s something so much fun about laying out a blanket and just hanging out. This show ended up being kind of interesting… there were lots of drunk cowboys around. So many, in fact, we saw three actual fist fights. Drop down, chests puffed up, roll on the ground fist fights. It was pretty entertaining!

Amber & I
Amber & I

The concert itself was really good. Lee Brice opened the show and was followed up by Chris Young. I went into the show thinking I didn’t know very many of either of their songs, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that I did. They were both awesome live… and as you know, that’s a huge thing for me wither performers.

After those two came Brad Paisley. I’ve seen him once before and loved him… this time was no exception. He can seriously play guitar. Like seriously. I love his music… he sings really great love songs. He even had a Carrie Underwood hologram for his song “Remind Me”. Amber and I spent a decent portion of the song trying to figure out if she was real or not… so it was pretty convincing!

Brad Paisley's Stage
Brad Paisley’s Stage

Let the summer of music continue!

Summer of Influence

*** So this has been sitting in my drafts for like a week… totally forgot to actually hit publish! ***

Last night I finally got to see Straight No Chaser with Mike, Adam, and Eva… I’ve been wanting to go for years and one thing or another has gotten in the way. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, they’re the a cappella group from Indiana University who rose to fame with this little gem:

The concert was at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga which is quickly becoming one of my favorite venues to see a show. It’s a great little concert bowl that overlooks the valley… absolutely stunning views.

SNC was as awesome as I had hoped they would be. They went through a range of their most popular songs (all covers of hits) and left me wanting to hear more. I would definitely see them again… I was really bummed that they didn’t do “The 12 Days Of Christmas” (yes, I’m aware that it’s August).

Legends of Summer

Last Friday I headed to Candlestick Park with Adam and Eva to see Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z on their “Legends of Summer Tour“. I’ve seen JT in the past and his show was amazing – even if you don’t like the music, he is a great performer. After reading Jay-Z’s book “Decoded” I became a fan, as he discussed in great detail the meaning of his songs and lyrics. I’m convinced he’s a really smart dude.

The sound was less than stellar, partly because Candlestick Park is such a huge, open venue. I didn’t realize until after, but this tour is strictly a stadium tour, which I think is an interesting choice. The show itself was awesome. I think the really neat part for me was how they wove the show together. Instead of the traditional opening act, they had a DJ for about an hour. He was not the best in the world, but came up with some good (and interesting) song combinations. “California Love” by Tupac followed by “All Night Long” by Lionel Ritchie, anyone? Then the show kicked off. The stage setup was great – it was this massive shiny red stage that they projected all sorts of things on depending on the song.

Stage Setup
Stage Setup

There was definitely some thought put into the flow of the show – rather than JT doing a set and then Jay-Z doing a set, they innerwove their music. This was really cool for me because the two styles of music, while different on the surface, actually flowed really well together. They also made it super easy for the guys to switch back and forth via a trap door/elevator on the stage. Most of the time, you never saw the guy leaving. It was a great show as evidenced by the following picture:

This Is What Fun Looks Like
This Is What Fun Looks Like

Finally, we had something really cool happen as we were leaving the show. We were walking through the parking lot when we heard sirens. Around the corner came roaring a couple of motorcycle cops, cars, and two black SUVs. We started trying to figure out who it was when Adam flashed the shaka (ie. hang loose sign) and none other than Jay-Z popped his head and arm out the window to give it back. Too cool!

Locked And Reloaded

Last night was the first concert on the country mega ticket… Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley on the Locked and Reloaded Tour. We headed out to the Sleeptrain Amphitheater for the first show that I’ve been to at that venue since high school. We got there a few hours early and enjoyed some tailgating time. The people watching was amazing and we got to see a ton of really impressive trucks.

Brigitte & I
Brigitte & I

I absolutely love concerts on the lawn… don’t get me wrong, some shows are not set up for that, but this one was perfect. We had a blast hanging out and really enjoyed the atmosphere and the show. Dan (Brigitte’s husband) took a moment between artists to educate me on where real cowboys keep their money…

Cowboy Boots
Cowboy Boots

The show itself was really good… the opening act was Joanna Smith, who I honestly hadn’t heard of before this. She was pretty good and sang for about twenty minutes. She was followed by Randy Houser, who I absolutely love. I was a little bummed… he didn’t do “Anything Goes”, which is my favorite song of his.

After that, Dierks Bentley came out. He was super high energy and although I was a little skeptical of his live singing ability before this (I wasn’t all that impressed with both his and Miranda’s performance on the ACMs), they both kicked butt live. He did a really good job of interacting with the audience and I think my favorite song he sang had to be “5-1-5-0”.

Finally, it was time for Miranda Lambert. She was absolutely amazing – like much of her music, her show is centered around strong women who are normal people (she even said at one part “I’m a normal girl – I eat chicken fried steak, I drink beer, and I shop at Walmart”). Brigitte and I even commented that she seems like someone we would hang out with – just a normal girl who loves what she does. She had an amazing amount of energy and sang every one of her big hits, along with some newer songs from her latest album. About halfway through her set she was joined on stage by the Pistol Annies, her country girl band. They were so good… they have these really tight harmonies and sing some great songs!

It seemed like Miranda was finally done and was getting ready for her encore. The stage went dark and we heard “red red red red red red red red redneck”. Yup, out came none other than Blake Shelton himself, accompanied by the Pistol Annies to sing “Boys ‘Round Here”, which is his newest song on the radio that is constantly stuck in my head. It was such a great finale!

The weather was absolutely beautiful and perfect to kick off this concert series… I can’t wait for the next one!

A New Concert

I’m excited to add another concert to the 2013 Concert Calendar (click HERE to see the page). The latest is a group I’ve been wanting to see for quite a few years now, but stuff just kept getting in the way. Yup, I’m finally going to see Straight No Chaser. For those of you unfamiliar with them, watch this video (all the way through!):

Since that fateful 1998 video, SNC has come out with several albums, mostly that cover pop songs with their 10 person a capella group. They are absolutely talented and amazing… I can’t wait to see them live!

2013 Concert Update

So super excited about the show that is just added to my concert list this year… Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z! I’m going with Adam and Eva… it’s going to be so much fun!!!

2013 Concert Calender

January 27: Rock of Ages

January 31: George Strait, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour

May 10: Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley with Randy Houser and Joanna Smith

June 2: Les Misérables

July 26: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z

August 8: Luke Bryan with Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line

August 23: Brad Paisley with Chris Young and Lee Brice

September 22: Keith Urban with Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch

October 11: Jason Aldean with Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett