Zach Bryan and band performing on the Sagebrush stage in Austin, Texas
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The Story Behind Zach Bryan's Secret Austin Show

January 12, 2024 3:46 pm GMT
Last Edited February 5, 2024 12:43 pm GMT

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Zach Bryan was standing out the front of the Sagebrush smoking a cigarette when Chasen Wayne, the venue's booker, came out and told him to stop.

It was peak hour and traffic was building in front of them on a sunny but breezy Wednesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.

As well as insisting on the Grammy-nominated, Oklahoma troubadour moving inside, he also notioned; "It'd be cool if you played here one day." The singer-songwriter was there with his band, filming a music video that closed the venue for two days.

Bryan laughed and said he was just the person he wanted to see. He said he did want to play at the venue, and a lot sooner than Wayne might have expected, "Tonight, for 100 people at 9pm".

After confirming with the production team onsite, Wayne rushed back inside to break the news to the owner, inform security and get the bar staff organised for an unequivocally big night ahead. Bryan paid for the 100 tickets, plus a tab for them all to enjoy. According to Wayne, it all happened within half an hour.

Doing what he does best, Bryan announced the spontaneous show an hour before the scheduled start time on social media. His faithful fans warmly welcomed the news; fifteen minutes later, more than 1000 people were in a line around the block.

Uncharacteristically, Bryan didn't bring a guitar. But Wayne had one, and he'd just happened to have changed the strings. He was worried the guitar was going flat as Bryan played, "but when every single person knows every word to your song, it doesn't seem to matter".

"It's pretty cool, cause that guitar is my first real guitar that made me feel like a musician and I got it years ago. I named it after my grandmother "Trudy" who always believed in my music career".

But Bryan wasn't there only to please fans and bless strangers' guitars – he had a job to do. He was filming his next music video with Hollywood stars Matthew McConaughey and Tye Sheridan, Wayne confirmed.

"The Music Video song I can't say... it all came together thanks to Side Label Productions".

We personally have our sights set on the visuals for 'Nine Ball', following fan speculation from the show and it being teased at the end of his music video for 'Boys of Faith'.

"There's a recording of the show that was asked from us and our sound guy", Wayne explained. "I believe [there's] an entire filmed production of that performance separate of the music video completely".

Speaking on both the filming of the project and the organisation of the secret show, Wayne commended Bryan and his team; "It was a once-in-a-lifetime improv moment and that really speaks to his fan base and their commitment".

Superfan Anna Fash, who lives just by the bar, says she ran over with her boyfriend as soon as he posted about the show. She didn't spot Matthew McConaughey, but said everyone was drinking Pantalones Tequila.

"I'm a big fan... My boyfriend Andy who knew about the show has been a Zach Bryan fan since before everyone else, like he was telling people to listen to him after the first album came out!"

It's his day-one fans that make this possible for Zach Bryan. Whether it's due to his easy-on-the-ears and subtly-produced songs or his everyday bloke mentality at the peak of his music career, he's found a recipe for something stronger than fandom. Zach Bryan's built a community, and he listens to it.

Immensely satisfied with the turnout, and the crowd, Bryan expressed his gratitude on X, "Sagebrush that was amazing, thank you so much. Gotta go to Austin, Texas more huh."

Let's not forget Zach, the last time you left Austin.

For more on Zach Bryan, see below:

Written by Gemma Donahoe
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