Was Zac Brown Band worth $194? A subjective analysis of State Fair’s most expensive ticket

The Minnesota State Fair is known for displaying the state’s biggest pumpkin and biggest pig. The fair set a record Friday for — drum roll, please — the highest ticket price ever at the grandstand. A whopping $194 for the Zac Brown Band.

Whoa!

Last year’s top ticket price was $88 for Tim McGraw. In 2017, the floodgates opened — $101 for Toby Keith, $97 for Usher and $90 for Stevie Nicks.

This year, Florida Georgia Line commanded as much as $106 for their last gig for the foreseeable future. Comic Jim Gaffigan — just a man, a microphone and a stool — got up to $94. In 2017, his top grandstand ticket cost $60. That’s a 56% jump in five years. The only inflation there is, um, ego.

But back to Zac Brown Band in its State Fair debut. The rationale for the steep ticket price is the popular country hitmakers are essentially a stadium attraction performing in a smaller venue. They rocked Target Field in 2016 and ’18 (top price $121.50) and Twin Cities Summer Jam 2021 at Canterbury Park. This summer, ZBB has been gigging in stadiums and amphitheaters — venues with much larger capacities than the grandstand, which was sold out Friday with 13,185 fans.

In other words, ZBB requires a hefty fee — about $1 million — and the ticket prices reflect that.

Was Friday’s concert worth $194? Or even $75 for the least expensive seat?

Here’s our subjective analysis:

  • ZBB performed 10 of their 14 No. 1 country songs. Value: $35
  • The average ZBB show is 2 hours 35 minutes with 21 songs performed, according to setlist.fm. We got 90 minutes and 19 songs (including one medley and one mashup). Value: Minus $25.
  • “Colder Weather” always resonates in Minnesnowta. Mashing it up with the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” was a nice tip of the hat to an obvious influence. Value: $10
  • As a bar band on steroids, ZBB always performs some covers. They did Queen (the crowd-thrilling and musically challenging “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Kings of Leon (“Use Somebody”). Value: $10
  • This Georgia band feels compelled to cover Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” because it ignites the crowd and the musicians. Value: $10
  • ZBB’s medley of songs of hits by Alabama, Randy Travis and Dolly Parton proved their country bonafides, but their set also incorporated rock, R&B, bluegrass and pop. Value: $7
  • Clay Cook, Coy Bowles and John Driskell Hopkins are versatile multi-instrumentalists, but Jimmy De Martini was invaluable, firing up the festivities with his fiddle. Value: $25
  • Brown, 44, proved to be a passionate singer and a generous bandleader, putting the spotlight on various instrumentalists and vocalists, including newcomer Caroline Jones. Value: $15
  • Highlights: “Colder Weather,” “Loving You Easy,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “As She’s Walking Away” with Eagles-worthy vocal harmonies. Value: $40
  • Pitbull, who delivered on Sunday on one of the greatest grandstand shows ever, had a top price of $84. Comparison value: minus $50.
  • “Chicken Fried” suggests an entrée, not a dessert. It worked as a penultimate tune Friday with Brown detouring into some speechifying about how people, not the government or media, define the United States. Value: $7
  • Opening act Robert Randolph & the Family Band offered 50 minutes of bracing and often blistering blues-rock, with some gospel, jazz and R&B balladry mixed in. Value: $30.

Bottom line: $114

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