Thursday, June 26, 2014

Zac Brown Band Opens Summer 2014 at Forest Hills Stadium

by Michael Perlman, Perlman PR

Forest Hills knew how to celebrate the first day of summer. On June 21st, the three-time Grammy winner, two-time CMT winner, and Multi-Platinum Zac Brown Band took the Forest Hills Stadium stage, and launched the summer 2014 concert series. The southern country-rock band, known for their albums “Uncaged,” “You Get What You Give,” and “The Foundation,” has sold an excess of six million copies. It was a sunny and mild summer night, and at 5 PM, crowds began filling the venue which accommodates an estimated 16,000 concertgoers.        

America’s first concrete tennis stadium, dating to 1923, has undergone additional restoration work and upgrades which include numbered metal benches on the upper levels, seats with backings on the lower level, improved ADA accommodations, widened aisles, handrails, and easier access to food and beverages. A new stage was transported from a Toronto tennis center, and erected in Forest Hills Stadium in May. To address last summer’s public safety concerns, where concertgoers speculated that the stadium was overbooked, a reserved seating system was implemented and fewer tickets were sold.
In August 2013, the stadium reopened with Mumford & Sons, which became the first major musical act at the stadium since the 1980s. It struck a chord for patrons who recalled the annual Forest Hills Music Festivals of the 1960s through the early 1980s. Memorable summers featured music greats including Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Peter, Paul, & Mary, Donna Summer, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, and the Rolling Stones.

Zac Brown Band specials were offered by local restaurants, and some erected concession stands near the stadium. Among the restaurants which experienced an increase in patronage were Banter, Bareburger, Forest Hills Station House, and Austin Public. Earlier this month, some local organizations played a role in concert promotions, such as the 112th Precinct which raffled front row tickets to their Twitter followers.

Air personality Jesse Addy of Nash FM 94.7 opened the concert and asked, “Has anyone come for a tennis match? Who is here to see the Zac Brown Band?” With much enthusiasm, that was followed by “Country is back in New York City!” A Zac Brown Band documentary was screened around 6:30 PM, and as it approached 7 PM, some patrons chanted “We want Zac!”

The band began performing at 7:30 PM, and then announced, “Everyone who bought a ticket made a donation to help kids with Autism and ADD.” Fans enjoyed a wide range of numbers for two and a half hours. That included “Jump Right In,” “Chicken Fried,” and “As She’s Walking Away.” In between songs, “USA” chants were heard. As the sun set over Forest Hills Stadium on the longest day of the year, fans continued dancing, while laser beams contributed to a dance club feel. The band highly interacted with fans by throwing tennis balls into the audience and stepping off the stage to shake hands.

Concertgoers, some of whom wore country western clothes, mostly commuted from the tri-state area. “I kept thinking, it's really incredible to know some of the big names that performed at the stadium, and how close you feel to the performers,” said Manny Morelli of Jersey City. “I've seen the band before, and they always look like they are having a blast, which the audience feeds off of.”

Amie Valois of Rockland County agreed, and referred to the band as energetic and interactive. She said, “In addition to their own songs, they covered an eclectic range of classics from Billy Joel to Metallica, which I loved. Also, the sound in the stadium was great, as well as the stadium’s history, charm, and size.”

However, she complained about the beer line setup. She said, “It may be the number of taps or the staff, but for $8 a beer, they should be able to offer more and better of both.” Referring to the porta potties, she said, “I am not sure why there are no restrooms.”

“My concert experience was excellent,” said Jeannine Barr of Center Moriches, NY. “Once our train arrived, I was quite taken by the charm of Forest Hills. I could appreciate that this was no modern structure, and I felt safe with the layout. The staff was excellent in showing us our way, and I felt good knowing where the exits were.”

Barr is a huge Zac Brown Band fan, and saw them perform at MetLife Stadium and Mohegan Sun. She explained, “The Forest Hills venue was much smaller and more intimate. One of the highlights was when they covered Billy Joel's “Piano Man” …some way to woo a Long Island crowd!”

Stay tuned for more summer 2014 concerts. Recently announced bookings are Modest Mouse and Brand New on August 9th, Drake vs. Lil Wayne on August 19th, and The Replacements on September 19th. Visit for more information. 

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