The Zac Brown Band played to a crowd of enthusiastic and flannel-clad country fans in the Bryce Jordan Center last night.
Levi Lowrey, the first of two opening acts, started the concert with a soulful country flair. Lowrey's gentle acoustics, accompanied by Zac Brown Band member Clay Cook, eased the crowd into the night ahead.
Blackberry Smoke then joined the stage with a thumping set that had the crowd clapping to the beat. The band's songs, which mixed classic rock and well-known country themes, included a song that, according to lead vocalist Charlie Starr, was "a true story about a bar fight" the band once got into.
"Sometimes life gets nasty," Starr said. "You just have to get nasty right back at it."
The crowd, which was thin during the opening acts, quickly crowded the floor and nearly filled the stands in the moments leading up to the headlining band's first song.
The audience roared as the Zac Brown Band finally took the stage. Fans stood and danced to the music, stomping their cowboy boots to some of the band's most popular songs.
Members of the Zac Brown Band, all of whom had noticeable chemistry with both the audience and each other. were as excited to play as their fans were to see them.
The band showed a unique knack for balancing energy-filled country rock with slower, smoother songs. The audience was left swaying and sighing to the ballad "Colder Weather," only to get on their feet to dance a minute later with "It's Not Okay."
Fan favorites included "Knee Deep," a song that the crowd recognized from the very first chord. Hardcore fans knew the song nearly as well as the band and weren't afraid to sing along with the lyrics.
Casey Watson said he was excited to see his favorite band live for the first time.
"As a country fan, I like to stick to my country roots," Watson (freshman-biology) said. "Tonight we have good seats and a good band at a good college."
Grady Li, a fellow country fan, agreed.
"I like that Zac Brown Band mixes country with some rock and reggae," Li (freshman-department of undergraduate studies) said.
Despite worries that the Wednesday night concert wouldn't bring many attendants, fans weren't deterred by fact that it was a weekday show.
Li said that the band is "a big enough name" that students probably didn't worry about jeopardizing their school work.
As soon as Jessica Jones found out that the Zac Brown Band was coming to Penn State, she knew she had to make the time to see the concert.
"I was so excited about seeing Zac Brown Band that arranging my week around them wasn't even a problem," Jones (senior-psychology) said.