Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Concert Review: X Ambassadors @ Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA 10/25/15

Sometimes disappointment opens the door to great pleasure.

When I bought tickets to the show X Ambassadors were just blowing up on the scene.  You could say that is was largely in part to the use of their song 'Renegades' in a Jeep commercial.  I would like to think that in was largely in part the fruit of their talents.

Tickets were $15 at at a small venue in Philly called Underground Arts.  I was very excited to see an up and coming band in a small venue.  That is the type of scenario that leads to wonderful, musical memories.  The show sold out in a week and before you knew it the concert was moved to the much larger venue of Electric Factory.  I have never hid my dislike for Electric Factory.  I am sometimes known to spout that on Social Media.

I'm not proud of that by the way.  I digress.  Whether I liked it or not this would be our fate.  With two month til the show I settled down and waited patiently.

As the concert neared our excitement grew.  One of the reasons was parking.  That is right, parking.  I can get very anxious if I am unsure about parking.  Sometimes you would never know.  Sometimes, it is so bad I can drive you nuts.  At previous concerts I had a larger vehicle so I was exempt from parking at the main lot at the venues entrance.  I know have a new, smaller vehicle.  Not only could I park in the mail lot but the main lot is also cheaper.  Hopefully it would not be full when we got there.

The show was a Sunday which afforded us to leave a little bit later as there would not be any rush hour traffic.  The opening act of Kevin Garrett was going on at 7:30.  It would be close.  When we arrived luck was with us and we got one of the last two spot in the main lot.  We were 20 feet from the front door.  We heard Kevin Garrett finishing his set as we walked in the front door.

The Electric Factory tends to be a very loud venue.  This thought rolled through my brain just after we walked in and I remembered I left our earplugs in the car.  This would play a major roll in where to stand.  The other factor is beer.  If you want to stand on the floor you can not drink.  If you want to drink to are banished to the right side of the stage or the balcony.  The balcony it was.  We were able to grab a beer and a spot on the steps in the center back.  It was cozy with an unobstructed view.  Hopefully, we were also far away from the speakers.

Skylar Grey took the stage around 8:30.  I was unfamiliar with Skylar.  I had listened to her 'Don't Look Down' Album on Rdio.

Musically, the album is upbeat even though the lyrics may not be.  Hell, even Eminem raps on it.  This is not the Skylar Grey that we saw in concert.  The music was much darker.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I like dark.  It just hard to go from that to the upbeat tempo of X Ambassadors.  I would love to see Skylar in a small venue.

The highlight of her set was her new single 'Cannonball' which is a duet with X Ambassador front man Sam Harris.  Soon would be the main event and you could feel it in the crowd.  It was an undefinable crown.  I good mix of everything.  It was not as young as I initially thought it would be.

Around 9:30 the band took the stage and they were loud, energetic, and sounded great!!!

Not knowing much about the band it was amazing to see the Keyboard player come on stage with a white cane. It was fun watching him get into the music. The band had great energy on stage.  They were tight and it was music to our ears.

It was hard to actually take a clear picture of Sam as he was all over the place. Most of my photos were blurred but I was able to get a couple decent shots.

The sound was as loud as I had thought it might be.  The crescendo was an ear bleeding guitar solo that left our ears ringing for three days.

Front man, Sam Harris, showed off his musical chops by playing sax, guitar and bass.  Not to mention his singing, which was spot on.

We knew that with only an album and one EP that the set list would be short and sweet with no surprises.  The test would be how good they would sound live and how long they could keep up their energy.  They sounded incredible!  The short clip below will give you an idea of how good.

It was incredible hearing how good Sam sounds live.  His was able to show off his vocal range which was amazing.  It is hard to imagine that voice coming out of his body.

They ended the set with 'Renegade' and then 'Jungle'.  Neither song was used for the encore which strangely was a little disappointing.  Nevertheless, they put on a great show.

Some bands disappoint you when you see them in concert.  Some bands are so good live that when you listen to their recorded material it is ruined for you.  X Ambassadors played a solid show.  They played their material with precision and energy.  They didn't offer anything new by the way of material or covers.  They didn't deviate from their given material.  I am not saying that I need that.  It was a good show and I am walking away very impressed.  I wasn't blown away like I was with Imagine Dragons or Twenty One Pilots but I was very, very happy.  Listening to the songs on my computer now it feels like something is missing.  That is the sign of a good show.  They did their job.

The show was over by 10:35.  We walked out the front door, got right in the car, and got right out of the parking lot.  The GPS showed we would be home by 11:15.  Not bad for a Sunday night.  When we got around the corner I stopped at a light and we both looked at each other and grabbed our ears.  The ringing was unbearable.  I couldn't even play the car radio on the way home.  Let that be an earplug public service announcement.

Although I was disappointed about the venue, the X Ambassadors rocked it.  Not bad for a young band early in their career.  I hope that their next step is a good one.  I had similar experiences with Imagine Dragons and AWOLnation early on end was disappointed with their follow ups.  I am sure in this day and age the record label pressure after becoming a hit is maddening if not crushing.  Hopefully, they follow more in the footsteps of Twenty One Pilots as their future unfolds.  It will be an interesting story to watch.

See you at the next show!


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