Behind the Scenes At the Zac Brown Concert in Missoula
Do you ever wonder what all goes on behind the scenes of a large production? After earning my Entertainment Management certificate from the University of Montana and working as the Marketing Coordinator for UM Productions, I have gotten many opportunities to work with professionals in the entertainment and music industry. I started off working as event staff for UM Productions and got to learn the basics of what all goes into making a concert happen.
After working event staff, I then got to work as a runner on the day of show. When being a runner I worked directly with the tour, and ran any errands they needed. This could entail groceries, instrument needs, laundry runs, food for the band at the end of the show, or any other random need they came up. When you are literally backstage all day, you begin to realize just how many people make such an event happen. There are such a variety of roles, and a large number of people working long hard days, and everybody is important.
For the Missoula Zac Brown show, I got the privilege of meeting and shadowing David Plyler, a representative from ROAR, the band's management company. He graduated from the College of Charleston, and was recently interviewed for his success and rare, exciting job.
After spending the day running around with Plyler and meeting the rest of the crew, I realized what genuine, real, and kind people they all were. Zac Brown Band's tour was one of the nicest and most genuine crews I have ever worked with. They treated everyone with respect, and seemed like a family. Zac usually tours 3/4 days a week, year-a-round. Unlike many tours I have worked with, everybody working with Zac Brown Band gets to fly home on the days they are not touring. Zac Brown is married with four daughters, and a little boy on the way. He realizes that being home with your family is important, and I think it is amazing how he gives his crew the opportunity to do so.
Most tours have a "meet and greet" before the show. During this time, fans are able to take a photo with the artist and possibly get an autograph. The time spent with the band during a meet and greet is typically less than a minute.
Zac Brown Band has a different tradition; an "eat and greet." The eat and greet takes place before the show and lasts for one hour. During this time, Zac and the whole band are present. Chef Rusty, an old friend of Zac's, goes out early each morning to purchase local produce and designs a new menu each day for the particular city they are in. Three of the recipes are Zac's, and everything is created on the day of show, all from local ingredients. The band members help serve the food, and guests are provided with Landshark Lager beer and Honest Tea. The hospitality doesn't end there though, as the band walks around and has real conversations with their fans.
I got to sit in and observe the eat and greet for the Missoula show, and I have never seen something like that before. The band all seemed so happy to be there, and everybody was willing to sit and talk with whoever. Zac even started things off by saying, "Don't be shy, come up and talk to us. That's why we're here."
Not every artist, tour, or crew are as outgoing and willing to connect with their fans as Zac Brown's was last week. It was very refreshing to be able to see there are kind, personable, and real people in this industry. I was able to attend the Bozeman show the following day, and when Zac was on stage he said, "Thank you guys for giving us the opportunity to do what we love as a job."
Knowing how genuinely he meant that gave me chills.