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10 Best Things We Saw – Billboard

Written by on 25/09/2023

Undoubtedly, the most-buzzed-about performance at this year’s Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival was Sunday night festival closer Zach Bryan, who in the past couple of years has surged into the spotlight, following his breakthrough hit “Something in the Orange.” His self-titled album debuted atop the Billboard 200 this summer and he earned his first Billboard Hot 100-topper with the Kacey Musgraves collaboration “I Remember Everything.”

Bolstered by an ace band with guitar, banjo, horns, drums and fiddle, Bryan’s music seemed to encapsulate the festival’s far-reaching expanse of styles, as his music seamlessly flowed between rock, country, folk, grunge and more — all spearheaded by a versatile voice that can instantly turn from reflective tender to full-shouted growls. It was indicative of this generation’s disinterest in the concept of genres, and their hunger for music that speaks to them, in all its forms.

Thousands of music lovers packed the expansive farmland while Bryan and company sailed through “Godspeed,” “Highway Boys,” “Quittin’ Time,” “Dawns,” “Burn, Burn, Burn,” “Something in the Orange” and “Oklahoma Smokeshow,” though Bryan teased the audience by singing “Tennessee Smokeshow.”

Bryan’s onstage patter was minimal (and somewhat repetitive), as he often thanked the crowd for attending, and repeatedly declared his love “for each and every single one of you.”

Bryan’s music is as prolific as it is poetic, as he followed his just-released self-titled project with the new EP, Boys of Faith. Both projects feature a plethora of collabs, and Bryan surprised the crowd by welcoming some of his musical buddies for the debut performances for a few of those. He introduced Noah Kahan to help perform “Sarah’s Place,” while The War and Treaty (who had performed on the same stage earlier in the day) returned to the stage to perform a blistering rendition of “Hey, Driver” alongside Bryan. After a brief interlude, Bryan was joined by Saturday evening’s headliners The Lumineers, to cap off the evening with a heart-tugging rendition of “Spotless.”

By the time he rolled into songs such as “Heading South” and “Revival,” with the audience (a sturdy mix of guys and gals) all dancing, raising up their drinks and singing whole-heartedly, it was clear that was just what he was doing — holding a musical, soul-heartening revival that surely would have gone on all night long, given the opportunity.

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