BILLBOARD | July 21, 2018
If you too have stumbled across that cryptic 13-second Facebook video from the Zac Brown Band in recent weeks — the one with the dancers, horns and glitter teasing an “epic,” one-night-only event in Denver with Cirque du Soliel — here’s one more piece of the mystery: The show is free — but only a friend can get you in the door.
It’s all part of Brown’s latest project with his other band, the EDM pop outfit Sir Rosevelt, and their collaboration with Montreal-based theatrical pioneers, Cirque du Soliel.
If an American jam band hero merging with Canadian circus acrobats isn’t exciting enough (and exactly the kind of glasnost we need right now), the Aug. 7 Sir Rosevelt concert at Denver’s 1stBank Center also represents another industry milestone: Concert fans themselves are distributing all the tickets personally to their fellow fans.
“We’re just digging deeper into a network of people who are passionate about the same things,” Brown said recently from a ZBB tour stop in Syracuse. “It’s a new way to connect.”
Brown kicked off the fan-ticketed event on June 21, by distributing free tickets to just a handful of followers, who were then instructed to keep one ticket for themselves and share three additional ticket codes with friends who were important in their lives.
Those fans too received extra tickets to pass along exponentially — until the venue is full. Fans can track the ticketing in real time at www.sharethecode.us and are being asked to post personal stories on the platform explaining why they shared their tickets with the people they did. The concert will be capped at 5,000 fans.
Presenting the pay-it-forward promo are Brown and partner Enterprise Holdings, parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Enterprise vp marketing Frank Thurman said the partnership with Sir Rosevelt is about “acts of kindness and creating unique connections.” “We’re able to reward those fans who are picking people up,” Thurman said — a play on the rental car company’s longtime catchphrase “we’ll pick you up.” The concert will be capped at 5,000 fans.
As with his pioneering eat-n-greets years ago on ZBB tours, Brown is looking to extend a level of “hospitality” to concert-goers not often seen in the business.
No small thing of course, but let’s get down what’s really important here: Who knew Zac Brown was a closet Cirque fan? What’s this night gonna look like and is it the blueprint for a tour or a Vegas sit-down?
“I’ve always wanted to work with them, yeah definitely,” he said of Cirque du Soleil. “It’s not that different than what we do as musicians. It’s talented people working together on a common goal.”
He likens the gymnasts, acrobats, flame-throwers and others who perform Cirque’s feats of derring-do to Olympians and other performers “who have dedicated their lives to doing one thing, and really mastered it.”
He says he has also long been a fan of the manner in which Cirque presents its shows. “I’ve always liked their approach, their costumes, the make-up, and that there is no limit to what can happen on stage.”
Sir Rosevelt, formed in 2016, also features singer-songwriter Niko Moon and producer Ben Simonetti. The band’s sound is typically classified as EDM-pop — a different universe than ZBB’s usual turf — but Brown says he’d rather not label it.
“There are electronic elements for sure,” he says of Rosevelt’s groove. “It’s got live instrumentation, and we can go places sonically, add a little more swagger . . . but I don’t know what you’d really call it without limiting it.”
Simonetti says that what makes working on this project most interesting is that “there are no walls that we have to stay within,” though he says Brown is “the same guy,” no matter the stage or genre.
Sir Rosevelt released its first (self-titled) album last year, and among the catchier tracks is “Sunday Finest,” co-written with Pharrell. A snippet of that song’s decadent video is the backdrop in ZBB’s Facebook tease for the Denver show.
This will be just the second U.S. performance ever by Sir Rosevelt, after shows in London, Australia, and last year at the Cosmopolitan resort in Las Vegas. Brown says rehearsals have been underway for a while, with Cirque producers creating entirely new theatrics specifically for his event. No word yet on whether it will tour.
“It’s woven throughout the concert,” Brown says of the circus elements. “It’s gonna be involved. We’re definitely gonna open some doors.”