Ford Idaho Center has hosted some major events since the building opened in 1997.
But when it comes to concert size?
Thanks to Zach Bryan, nothing was more epic than Thursday night.
Setting an Idaho Center attendance record, the fast-rising singer-songwriter packed more fans into the Nampa arena than ever before. The drop count — or number of bodies through the doors — was 12,166.
That topped the record of 11,445 fans set by country superstar George Strait in 2013.
“Crushed it,” said Andrew Luther, general manager at Ford Idaho Center.
Like King George, Bryan performed “in the round” — meaning the stage was placed in the middle of the arena, allowing the maximum number of concertgoers into the building. In fact, Bryan’s show was the first in-the-round performance at the Idaho Center since Strait’s a decade ago.
Both shows sold out in advance.
The key difference was how they were set up.
At Strait’s hit-filled event, the whole arena was designated as reserved seats, Luther explained.
But at relative newcomer Bryan’s? The entire floor was general admission. Fans were shoulder to shoulder, singing along with favorites such as “Heading South” and “Revival.” Despite the expansive arena, Bryan’s nearly two-hour performance had a vibe that was “very much in a bar,” Luther said.
Bryan, 27, is best known for his No. 1 country hit “Something in the Orange.” But don’t feel bad if you’re unfamiliar with him.
His path to success has been swift and unusual — occurring, in large part, while he was in the military.
Raised in Oklahoma, Bryan first began uploading iPhone-filmed music videos online in 2017 — while he was in the U.S. Navy. His song “Heading South” went viral. Bryan then self-released two albums: “DeAann” in 2019 and “Elisabeth” in 2020. The following year, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Shortly after, he was honorably discharged from the Navy to pursue music.
Bryan’s major-label debut album, “American Heartbreak,” came out in 2022.
Luther first heard about Bryan less than a year ago. Then “Boom!” Luther said — Bryan’s tour was routed through the Boise market.
And quickly sold out Ford Idaho Center.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Yeah, he’s out there playing clubs and the small theaters and the half houses,” Luther said. “He jumped right into a big arena tour. Usually, there’s some sort of progression. But he just went straight to the top.”
Besides Bryan and Strait, the biggest shows in Idaho Center arena history are Tim McGraw and Faith Hill with 11,059 fans in 2006, and the Rolling Stones, who drew 10,535 that same year.
Outdoors, the largest concerts at Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater have been Morgan Wallen with 10,518 fans in 2022, Shania Twain with an estimated 10,500 in 1998 and Kenny Chesney with 10,315 in 2018.