By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Senior Photojournalist
Venue: Busch Gardens Wine and Food Festival Concert Series, Tampa, Florida. Saturday, March 12, 2022
Band Links: American Authors (website), American Authors (Facebook)
The last time I saw these guys, they were in a nightclub/concert venue, sharing the stage with a couple of other bands. You can read about it here: American Authors January 2020.
That was, of course, pre-COVID, before everyone’s incomes and plans were trashed by the former guy’s incompetence. Now, we’re finally getting back to “normal,” but the band has not been idling the time away! Same lineup: lead vocalist and guitarist Zac Barnett, bassist Dave Rublin, and drummer Matt Sanchez, but they’ve replaced lead guitarist and banjoist James Adam Shelley with someone new, who also plays keys. Same high-energy show, with much more room to move, as the stage itself is half the size of the previous venue! I’m not going to repeat stuff that was in the previous article, just comment on what they’ve been up to since and the particulars of this show.
First thing I’ll mention is that the cold weather (for Floridians!) did not do them any favors. When I pulled into Busch Garden’s parking lot, I almost thought they were closed! Seriously, the parking lot was less than 1/4 full, and Busch has two remote lots as well! Fortunately, they drew a decent crowd, more than would have fit in the previous venue, but still less than they deserved. Busch Gardens hosts some big names: Sean Paul, Air Supply, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Michael Bolton, Tito Nieves, Collective Soul, 3 Doors Down, Stone Temple Pilots, The Band Perry, Doobie Brothers, Steppenwolf, Daughtry, Bret Michaels, Goo Goo Dolls, Kansas, Matt Nathanson, Clint Black, John Hiatt, something for almost anyone! But people get skeered when it drops below 80 degrees here, so expected temps in the 50s and possible rain results in only the biggest fans coming out.
But fans there were! And the band has not been idle during the past couple years; their anthemic hit single “Best Day of My Life” has been featured in over 600 movie trailers, TV shows, commercials, and as a theme song for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Wow. The band wasted no time getting back in the studio to record the Counting Down EP, released during the 2020 pandemic. The condensed album is at once a sonic adventure, an introspective on overcoming self-doubt, and a surging contemplation of hope and opportunity.
Other stuff done or in the works: A collaboration with Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas, “Move” and “Nice and Easy”, which features Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. Zac also has a solo project as “Van Bellman” – except he doesn’t. Never trust the internet! I was researching and found a reference to Zac from American Authors doing that project, but it was Zac Taylor, who is not with American Authors! Always double-check anything you read on the internet!
Anyway, here are a few more photos and .gifs from the concert!
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