By Laura Ord
Sunday at Pilgrimage belonged to our boy Zach Bryan.
Heading onto the festival grounds, you could feel the sense that you were witnessing the calm before the storm. Boy, were we right too. As soon as gates opened, swaths of fans bee-lined it to the main-stage railing to secure their place for the night’s final performance.
This marked our third time watching Zach take the stage at a festival this year and he honestly gets better each and every time. From the shy first-time headliner at Two Step Inn, to the loose and confident showman at Pilgrimage, watching Zach find his footing has been something truly incredible.
The entire weekend fans were abuzz with speculation over whether or not Zach would appear with different artists or if he’d bring out special guests. There was a charge in the air, a hope that we would get to see some of his newly released music live for the first time.
Near the middle of Zach’s 19-song-set, he brought out The War and Treaty to perform ‘Hey Driver’, off the recent self-titled album. The live performance of the song gives Michael and Tanya a chance to really showcase their breathtaking vocal range.
The biggest surprise of the evening was when Zach brought out Noah Kahan to perform ‘Sarah’s Place’. The song had only been released 72-hours prior and had already become a hit among fans. Kahan, who was not on the festival’s line-up but was in Nashville for the Americana Music Awards, was the bow on top of the gift.
‘Spotless’ featuring the Lumineers has been another stand-out collaboration from his self-titled record. The Lumineers headlined Saturday night and we expected Zach to pop up during their setm so when their show was over, it felt like we may not get the collaboration we were hoping for. In true Zach Bryan fashion though, he had the Lumineers join him for the second-to-last song of his set. Keeping us on the edge of our seats, hopeful until the last second, and delivering in such a gigantic way.
Zach ends every show with Revival. It’s raw, electrifying and you never know who is going to pop on stage for their chance to sing through the chorus. The ritual has become one that everyone looks forward tom and when you get the opportunity to experience it there is truly nothing else like it.
Zach’s live performance completely transforms his music, and this Pilgrimage closing set cements him as a true headliner.
Taken from his live performance at Pilgrimage in Franklin, Tennessee - Sunday, September 24nd, 2023.
Open The Gates
Fifth of May
Hey Driver (feat. The War & Treaty)
Something in The Orange
Heading South (feat. Johnny)
Sarah's Place (feat. Noah Kahan)
Burn, Burn, Burn
Spotless (feat. Lumineers)
For more on Zach Bryan, see below:
All photos by Laura Ord.