The perfect American bar needs pool tables, sticky counters, moody lighting, and loud locals. Country artist Zach Bryan knows this well, often posting images of scenes from such joints on his Instagram stories—and earlier this week, he came to Austin in search of more of the same.

Bryan is from Oklahoma, but it’s no secret he has a thing for Austin. He even wrote a song for the city, “From Austin,” on his third studio album. Tuesday, after Bryan posted a quick tweet-and-delete announcement about an impromptu show at local dive bar Sagebrush that night and offering free entry to the first hundred people to show up, Austin fans did not disappoint. The line, which one attendee told me was about 1,500 people long, began at the bar’s door on South Congress and ran all the way down Red Bird Lane.

Sagebrush, beloved for hosting events such as the Honky Tonk Cat Walk, Dolly Parton’s birthday celebration, and two-step dance lessons, could not have been a better fit for Bryan’s show. Budweiser lamps festooned with stickers hang over pool tables, and string lights scattered throughout the bar give Sagebrush the ambience of everyone’s favorite hometown haunt. What you won’t find walking through the doors of most hometown haunts, though, is Matthew McConaughey, or his Mud costar Tye Sheridan. 

Instagram posts show both Texan actors having a grand ol’ time, laughing and drinking alongside Bryan, who recently collaborated with another Texan, Kacey Musgraves, on the duet “I Remember Everything,” from his latest album. One image that Bryan shared, however, has inspired concern among fans: Is that blood trickling down McConaughey’s gorgeous face? Did someone break a bottle over his head? Did he take a drunken tumble? Your guess is as good as ours. 

We can tell you, however, that in addition to performing at Sagebrush, Bryan was filming a music video at the bar, and McConaughey and Sheridan made cameos. (Perhaps the video has McConaughey getting into a bar fight?) Lauren Wilkins, executive producer of the video, said they had hoped to cast McConaughey, the “unofficial mayor of Austin,” so Bryan took matters into his own hands after previous talent dropped out. The singer-songwriter pulled a Hail Mary and simply messaged the actor on Instagram. As for the last-minute show, the film crew had only a three-hour heads-up before showtime. “I think [Bryan] just was really caught up in the mood and he loved everything,” Wilkins, who works with the Austin production company Side Label, said. “He was just like, ‘You know what, f— it. I’m gonna play a show. What’s it going to take?’ ”

Darci Carlson, who tends bar at Sagebrush when she’s not touring to perform her own music, arrived right when Bryan tweeted the announcement. She said she hadn’t been a fan prior to Bryan’s show but was completely changed after seeing his generosity (he covered everyone’s drinks) and talent on full display. “[Music venues] are so oversaturated these days, and a place with so much heart like Sagebrush really does truly need to be showcased,” she said. “And I’m glad it was showcased by someone like Zach Bryan.”

“Thank you for being so kind and open-hearted these [past] few days @officiallymcconaughey,” Bryan wrote in an Instagram caption, “for all the advice and believing in something I cared enough to write about, you’ll always have a friend in me and for once it was an honor to meet a hero.” (He revealed nothing of the crimson streak running down McConaughey’s face.) Bryan also took time to thank the Sagebrush staff, noting that the live sound was “electric.” 

At the end of the roughly fifty-minute set, Bryan took to X (formerly Twitter): “Gotta go to Austin, Texas more huh.” Zach, anyone who can cover a “not stingy” bar tab is alright, alright, alright (sorry, we had to do it) to come back.