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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Review: Journeys Noise Tour in NYC
Thursday, October 24, 2013

When 3OH!3, The Summer Set, Wallpaper., and New Beat Fund hit The Gramercy Theatre in NYC on Monday, October 21st, for the Journeys Noise Tour there were two overarching themes that permeated the night – friendship, and having a good time.

The crowd was asked on numerous occasions about their best friends, and the acts seemingly all decided their sole purpose was to make sure everyone left with a smile on their face. For the concert goer, this makes for a great experience.

New Beat Fund, a self described hippie band from Los Angeles, led off the evening, fresh off their tour with Blink 182. I’d seen New Beat Fund earlier in the year at Warped Tour, but they had an 8:30pm set time that day, at which point everybody was either closing up shop, or had already closed up shop, and the band seemed genuinely exhausted. I couldn’t blame them, because at that point I was exhausted, too.

On Monday night, having not been beaten down by a full day outdoors, New Beat Fund gave a really enjoyable performance that was highlighted by some fun choreography, and the band embracing a sound that’s an amalgamation of Weezer and Sublime, with some hip-hop thrown in for good measure. At Warped Tour, New Beat Fund felt like a Sublime cover band. On this night they were a unique group coming into their own. With this is a starting point, they should be fun for years to come.

Wallpaper., of “#STUPiDFACEDD,” “FUCKING BEST SONG EVERR,” and “Good 4 It” fame, hit the stage next. Known for making party anthems, Ricky Reed and crew wasted no time, going straight into dance song after dance song.

For their live show, Wallpaper. features two drummers, which creates a great sound, and as a bonus, you can tell everyone is really having fun on stage. Fun is something a lot of artists attempt to create, but it’s easy to tell when it isn’t authentic. Reed, Novena Carmel, and the rest of the band, were truly enjoying themselves. As they danced their asses off I wondered if at any point they were going to pass out. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a duo quite as physically active on stage as Reed and Carmel. Reed must have tremendous breath control to be able to go from dancing wildly, to singing and rapping, without missing a beat, or a step.

A highlight of Wallpaper.’s set was when they performed “Hesher.” The moment the beat changes for the chorus section of the song, and the bass kicks in on a real sound system, one can’t help but aggressively nod their head while making an ugly face in appreciation of the pulsating bass line.

As an aside, Wallpaper.’s “Last Call” might be the first song to take over Semisonic’s “Closing Time” as the perfect song to close a bar with. It extolls the virtues of not letting someone else’s rules dictate your life, and having the party continue well into the wee hours of the morning.

After it was last call for Wallpaper., The Summer Set were ready to rock the crowd. Personally, I was excited to see The Summer Set for a second time this year (the first being at Warped Tour). Their latest album, Legendary, is one of my favorites of 2013.

During their performance The Summer Set brought everyone together through tapping into situations, and emotions, the entire crowd had in common. From happiness, to longing, to general life mistakes and missteps, the band had most everyone singing along to their spirited, inspirational, set. Even if someone didn’t know the words, they knew the feeling behind them.

The Summer Set also had some fun playing with the crowd, doing plenty of call and response. During “Jukebox” lead singer Brian Dales, who was clad in a red jacket, white shirt, and black bow tie, had the crowd singing the “na na na” section of the song. (Side note: I’m a sucker for the line about Dawson’s Creek. It’s said with so much passion that it makes me smile every time I hear it)

Much like the previous acts, the entire band was all smiles, and their actions, in addition to their words, let everyone know they were happy to be there, and were genuinely having a good time. The feeling was contagious. A lot of bands attempt to make feel good music. The Summer Set succeeds.

Closing out the night was 3OH!3. I have to admit, I’d seen 3OH!3 perform back in 2009, when “Don’t Trust Me” was big, and at the time, their audience was throwing bottles and being generally douchey, and I felt like their wasn’t much to 3OH!3’s music, with the exception of inciting such behavior.

A little over a year ago I wrote an article about giving bands a second chance, because there’s always an opportunity for musical growth, and there’s no reason to write off a band forever just because you didn’t like them back in the day. On this night, 3OH!3 showed how much they’ve grown. Both musically, and lyrically, they’re leaps and bounds ahead of where they were when they first debuted, and they won me over.

Lead emcee/singer Sean Foreman, who was wearing an Army of Darkness tank top, and looked slightly like a villain from a CW teen drama, had moments when he wowed the crowd with his flow. The band also felt authentic, rather than manufactured. All of this leads me to believe that when “Don’t Trust Me” was first brought to a label the band had to come up with a full album quickly, and wasn’t given any real chance to develop before being thrown out into the world. After the glow of their Top 40 hits died down they were finally able to really work on their music, and clearly took advantage of that opportunity.

What really revealed this to me was hearing them perform “Two Girlfriends.” During the first verse, the friend that I came with and I turned to each other and said, “I don’t remember him being able to rhyme like that.”

For their epic finale 3OH!3 brought up members of all the groups that performed throughout the night. Before they all made their way up there, however, both of the band’s keyboards died. Not letting missing two instruments break their stride, 3OH!3 simply went on without them, launching into a raucous version of “Don’t Trust Me” with a stage packed with artists. During the performance, 3OH!3’s Nathaniel Motte raised a broken keyboard over his head and slammed it down to the stage. Keys went flying everywhere. The second defunct keyboard met a similar fate. After the show, 3OH!3 stuck around to sign broken keyboard pieces, giving some lucky fans very unique souvenirs.

When all was said and done, all four bands’ goal of giving everyone a good time had been achieved, as everyone left with a smile on their face (and some with signed broken keyboard pieces in their hands).

Side story: I interviewed The Summer Set’s drummer, Jess Bowen, last month, while the band was touring internationally. At the time they were in Germany, and the only place where she had decent cell phone reception was a bathroom. Fast-forward to an hour before the show on Monday night. I was in front of The Gramercy Theatre and I saw Jess walking in before me. I said, “Jess!” and as she turned around I continued, “I’m Adam, from Substream.” After a very brief pause I added, “I’m the interview from the German bathroom!” She remembered, and we caught up for a little bit, but lemme tell ya, you get some looks when you yell a sentence like that while outside on a busy sidewalk.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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