It was one of the first cold nights of the year, and the hyper-lit streets of New York City were abound with anticipation. The air was tense, what with Thanksgiving being two days away and an important court decision only hours from being announced. Yet the suspense within New York City’s Irving Plaza had nothing to do with holidays or politics.
Well, maybe a little bit to do with “politics.”
The Tuesday before this past Thanksgiving found the epic pairing of New Politics and Bad Suns, two of modern indie/alternative rock’s most exciting young acts, playing to a sold-out crowd in New York. The evening opened with a surprise musical performance from indie rock songstress Lolo (aka Lauren Pritchard), whose badass music was lamentably not mentioned by the tour or by the venue. She kicked the Irving Plaza audience onto high alert mode long before headliners New Politics took stage, which is quite the feat for an unannounced act.
Listen: “Hit and Run” – Lolo
The official touring lineup started with Cleveland rockers SomeKindaWonderful, who not only have a great name, but also don an exquisitely-colored and thought-provoking butterfly emblem. The band’s unabashed southern-flavored rock is loud, raucous, and bound to put a smile on all but the most downtrodden of faces. SomeKindaWonderful has gotten a good deal of attention over the past year, both for their own original music (such as the track below), but also for their hip-hop covers of songs likes “California Love” and “Juicy.” You wouldn’t expect such an eclectic mix of genres from a single act, but these boys don’t really care about what you expect, let alone your narrow-minded expectations of homogenous and to-the-books music. SomeKindaWonderful do things their way, and by doing so they rightfully earn their name – it’s different, but good. Some kinda wonderful.
Listen: “Rhinestone Melodies” – SomeKindaWonderful
By the time SomeKindaWonderful left the stage, Irving Plaza was packed through and through; the usually dominant college/twenty-somethings crowd was challenged by an onslaught of younger, teenaged concertgoers, a demographic most likely reached through New Politics’ recent mainstream success.
Bad Suns’ performance was a live rendering of their fantastically introspective debut album, Language & Perspective – albeit in a slightly different order. The band opened with the hit track “Transpose” and continued a slew of catchy dance-rock numbers that called for swinging hips and loud audience participation.
Irving Plaza’s audience stood transfixed for the majority of Bad Suns’ act, caught in the LA band’s musical and lyrical genius. Young frontman Christo Bowman shined in the spotlight, jumping and swaying with the skills of a seasoned performer. Bad Suns were all between the ages of 19 and 22 when they formed two years ago, but their performance proves that age is just a number: With polished sounds and firm, decisive movements, Bad Suns exuded confidence.
It helps that they played to a packed room of screaming fans.
For some bands, sounding the same live as on record is an insult, but in this case, such an accomplishment is quite the feat: Bad Suns replicated both the energy and intense feelings offered in their debut album in so humble and professional a form that their performance can be considered nothing less than stellar. The set ended with a brilliant rendition of Bad Suns hits “Cardiac Arrest” and “Salt.”
Listen: “Cardiac Arrest” – Bad Suns
Bad Suns’ set could easily have been a great conclusion to an already fantastic night, but the New Politics performance that followed was the stuff of legends. Seldom have I experienced a concert as electrifying, honest and fun as the one put on by New Politics: These boys are born performers, and they clearly love what they do.
“I can tell this is going to be a crazy concert tonight,” said vocalist David Boyd to the screaming New York crowd. Many bands speak of the intense energy of New York City’s concert crowds, but few have harnessed it as well as Boyd and his fellow bandmates. New Politics is all sorts of crazy: The night, already propelled by the band’s high-powered rock, was brought even higher by an acrobatics display in the middle of the hit “Give Me Hope,” a mid-show tour-du-force of musical influences including a near-complete Beastie Boys cover, and an honest and heartfelt outpouring of love from the band to the audience (which was, needless to say, fully reciprocated).
New Politics had something to do after their songs – whether it was to get crowd participation through a t-shirt giveaway or to share an anecdote, the band kept us in mind. The trio, already well displaced on the wide Irving Plaza stage, acted as a cohesive unit: How hard they hit their instruments, how honestly they expressed their gratitude – but really, what it came down to, in the end, was how hard they hit their instruments.
This was, for all intents and purposes, a true-to-soul ROCK concert. “Royalties Among Thieves” is a new track off New Politics’ forthcoming third album, Vikings. Simply put, the song was “hard rock dripping with distortion” – at least, that’s what i wrote during the experience. The same goes for the recently-released single “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens),” which had the entire house shaking. In comparison to this newest material, the song Dignity” is an older cut off the band’s first album, and it was the first song for which New Politics stopped playing entirely whilst the crowd continued to sing. A politically fueled rocker, “Dignity” featured Boyd’s acrobatic and acting skills at their finest: Singing the final chorus’ lyrics, “I have no dignity,” Boyd shot himself, metaphorically going down in a (quite literal) sea of cheers.
Listen: “Dignity” – New Politics
“This is definitely a dream come true… It feels like we’re living a dream every day.” The band’s heartfelt words to an overjoyed New York crowd speak wonders about these starry-eyed boys’ sincerity. “This tour would be nothing without you guys; you make this tour what it is.” Between a medley of old hits, a medley of new hits, a drum solo, a piano ballad and more, New Politics have it all. Louis, David and Søren rocked Irving Plaza, giving easily amongst the most high-energy and exciting performances the venue has seen this season.
They are one of the few true rock bands out there nowadays, and their live show is not one to be missed. New Politics, on behalf of myself and the City of New York, I beseech you: Come back soon! We cannot wait to host you again.
To recap: New Politics rule, Bad Suns are great, SomeKindaWonderful kick ass, and Lolo is a rocking to-watch act for 2015.
It will be quite a while before Irving Plaza sees another night quite like this.
Listen: “Everywhere I Go (Kings And Queens)” – New Politics