For somebody who has only been at this for a pair years—he was still within the Navy until October 2021—Zach Bryan knows methods to work a crowd. But getting nearly 10,000 people to shred their lungs shouting along to each word of your songs for over an hour and a half outdoors during a snowstorm is a really particular level of stardom. This Christmas gift of a live album, recorded at the tip of Bryan’s 2022 tour, caps off a yr that saw Bryan’s triple-LP major-label debut American Heartbreak transform the prolific Oklahoma singer-songwriter from spirited upstart with a dedicated following to real supernova.
Recorded on a frigid, snowy November night at Colorado’s hallowed Red Rocks amphitheater, the set kicks off with a convocational tribute to an artist who named himself for the nearby Mile High City (John Denver’s “Country Roads”) and continues through Bryan’s already formidable catalog, which incorporates two self-released LPs, two EPs, and a fistful of loosie singles. The cohesive victory-lap set seems like a snapshot of a veteran artist playing well-worn classics at a mid-career peak, confidently blazing through rave-ups like “Open the Gate,” “Heavy Eyes,” and “Billy Stay” alongside slow-burn heart-wrenchers like “’68 Fastback,” the elegiac “Sweet DeAnn,” and the unexpectedly apt “Snow.”
But even greater than providing a showcase for Bryan’s vivid storytelling and bottomless charisma, All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster (the title nods to Bryan’s sympathetic tweets during November 2022’s Great Taylor Swift Eras Tour Ticket Sale Debacle) makes the case for the live album as an important document quite than a rote fans-only cash-in or easy contract-fulfiller. As strong as Bryan’s songs and performances are on record, they will’t, and shouldn’t, be separated from the context of their natural intended habitat—played in front of 1000’s of individuals belting every fastidiously crafted word right back at him in reverent, revelrous unison.