Live at Bumbershoot 2013, Day 1: ZZ Ward

photos by Morgen Schuler

text by Britta Plyler and Anna McClain

While ZZ Ward may be relatively new to the pop music scene, the pop/blues powerhouse began making music when she was 12. These years of experience and time spent honing her talent helped lead to the success of ZZ’s first EP, Til The Casket Drops, which was released last year. Her first single “Put the Gun Down” broke into the Top 40 Alternative Chart. Earlier this year, ZZ Ward received what must be one of the most flattering compliments The New York Times has ever given an artist of her genre. They wrote that “her energy evokes Tina Turner’s, her chops Aretha Franklin’s, and her soul Etta James’.” If that isn’t enough to convince you of her musical genius, the 27-year-old Oregon native was also named one of the must see act’s of this year’s SXSW music festival. It only makes sense that she’d be one of our own “must see” acts at Bumbershoot.

Bursting with energy, ZZ and her bandmates instantly got interactive with the audience, her voice ringing out with her hit anthem “Put the Gun Down.” It seemed gutsy of Ward to start with her biggest hit, but the singer had everything to be confident about. Each of her songs were as catchy and infectious as the last.

Starting on the guitar, ZZ showed off her multiple talents, taking over the piano on “365 Days,” and whipping out a harmonica on “If I Could Be Her.” Ward’s bandmates were equally talented, her keyboardist picking up the guitar on the later tracks and riling the crowd up with an energetic solo during “Criminal.”

Ward and her band made the crowd forget they were sitting and had them clapping, dancing along and cheering for more. By the final song, “Move Like U Stole It,” most were standing, with their hands up, some even unashamedly fist-pumping along. At the end of the day you’ve got to give the woman props for being able to rock a fedora.

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