Around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, roughly 35 minutes after alternative rock band Sister Hazel took the stage at The Bogey Bar & Grill, lead singer Ken Block paused between songs and stepped to the microphone to address the crowd.
“Who has seen us live before?” Block asked.
Roughly half the crowd cheered as they raised their beverages. Rousing would have been overstating the reaction.
“So that means about half of you guys have never seen us live before,” Block continued. “But what you might not know is that we have all one thing in common.
He paused for just a moment to build anticipation.
“We all love Urban Meyer!”
The crowd — far larger than you would expect to see out on a Wednesday in Dublin — promptly erupted. That Urban Meyer?
Ohio State's head football coach was indeed in the house, which should hardly be shocking when you consider 1) it was held a few miles from his home, and 2) much to the surprise of the author of this story, he is a big Sister Hazel fan.
How many people in attendance really knew Meyer was a Sister Hazel fan before Block shared it with the crowd?
Meyer’s Sister Hazel fandom goes back a ways. The band hails from Gainesville, Florida and Meyer, as you might have heard, spent a hefty portion of his career there. His favorite Sister Hazel song — A Little Like Heaven — is about the city.
So when the band began talking about its relationship with Meyer on Wednesday night, the now-Ohio State head coach raised his drink in the air to toast to the band.
Then they immediately began playing A Little Like Heaven.
I was born in 1988 and grew up in the 90s so when a few of my friends and I found out on Memorial Day that Sister Hazel and the Gin Blossoms were coming to Columbus just two days later, we figured it’d be a fun show to attend.
I’ll be honest, I know two songs by Sister Hazel and four or five by the Gin Blossoms, but tickets were cheap and we had consumed a few beers while grilling out Monday evening so we figured what the hell? In college, my friends held a 90s party every spring and those were a blast. Therefore, heading to a concert headlined by a pair of quintessential 90s bands was destined to be a good time too.
I didn’t know Meyer was going to be at the show until Wednesday morning when our very own D.J. Byrnes did some important investigative journalism to uncover Meyer’s love for Sister Hazel and that he’d be at the show Wednesday night.
So I figured while I was there, listening to Sister Hazel play about eight songs I had never heard before — I only knew All For You and Change Your Mind — I’d glance over at Meyer here and there to see how Ohio State’s football coach enjoys a night out; a summer evening away from the Woody Hayes Athletic Center where he logs absurd hours from August through April.
Urban's favorite Sister Hazel song — A Little Like Heaven — is about Gainesville, Florida.
If you were expecting Meyer to be a crazed concertgoer, dancing and singing along to every song, well, I hate to disappoint you but that’s just not what he is. This was a low-key affair with Meyer often standing in the back of his group along the fence casually sipping his beverage of choice.
His entourage appeared to be 25 or so people deep, just off to the right side of the stage. His wife Shelley was there as was his daughter Nicki. I caught a glimpse of new Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano in their group as well. The rest of his wolfpack consisted of other friends and possibly family members I didn't recognize. I wasn’t paying that close of attention, besides — I was still trying to enjoy the show myself.
But it did seem like every 10 seconds somebody came up to chat with Meyer — he’s a popular guy, you know? He glanced down at his phone a few times — did you know Kellen Mond decommitted from Baylor that evening? For the most part, however, he was just enjoying himself, leaning against the fence enjoying his time out of the office and off the recruiting trail.
Champagne High is a Sister Hazel song I had never heard before Wednesday night, but when the band stripped everything down and went acoustic for the first time during their show it caught my attention. I listened to the chorus, got my phone out, opened up Shazam and was able to identify the song’s name just like that.
Meyer already knew it because when the song concluded, he showed about as much emotion as you’re going to get out of him away from the sidelines. He clapped his hands and raised both into the air. The typical #dad concert celebration. He approved.
More songs were played. Meyer made his rounds, took some photos with friends and family. Then, came time for the encore and the guitar line hit:
Finally, I figured out
But it took a long, long time
But now there’s a turnabout
Maybe ‘cause I’m trying
Hey, I know this one!
And after Sister Hazel finished playing its most popular song All For You I happened to glance over at Meyer, who had made his way to the front of his group and was standing next to Shelley.
Another Meyer family moment.
This night seemed like it was filled with quite a few of them.