(Originally published on Examiner.com on July 25, 2015)
Opening the show was Lawson, a British rock band expertly blending the new pop swagger of Maroon 5 with a touch of alt-country and The Police. An extremely talented group of musicians, they really won the crowd over with their considerable instrumental capabilities. I was particularly impressed with the way their guitarist shredded on his Fender, and the speed and grace of the drummer on the skins. Also impressive was the way the band was able to get their audience to sing their single “Roads” back to them word-for-word.
Say It! Say It! were next with a set of loud, energetic pop-punk. The New York band’s sound is somewhere between Good Charlotte and The Wonder Years mixed with dance-pop synths, most likely the product of the band’s interesting use of keytar. Supported by an entourage of local fans, the band maintained a terrific flow of energy between the audience and the stage.
Sheppard has been killing it on stage for years and Wednesday’s show was no exception. From the first bars of “Halfway To Hell,” their set was a raucous hour-long party. Overall blending bright, sunny and uplifting melodies, cool jazzy numbers and rock mentality in their music and stage show, the non-stop energy coming from both the stage and audience were intoxicating. With so much excitement, you could tell that the band wanted to be there and give their fans the best experience possible. As the band ran through tracks from last year’s majorly successful ‘Bombs Away’ and their self-titled debut EP, there was no letting up. Even their cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” proved to be a crowd pleaser. The usually quiet bassist Emma Sheppard took to singing the female vocals on the cover to the applause of the entire room. The band wisely left their platinum-selling hit, “Geronimo,” for last, knowing that it would get the biggest response of the night.
The way Sheppard worked the stage has only gotten better. Now used to big stages, George and Amy Sheppard still made the audience feel like they were a part of the show. Amy decided to dedicate the band’s song “Smile” to a guy in the audience all the way from the U.K., completely making his evening. During “Geronimo,” George had the audience crouch down low before the final chorus, asking them to then jump as high as possible when the chorus came in, creating something special and unique for the audience at the show.
At Wednesday’s show, the crowd was treated to a high-energy, fun night of music by three outstanding bands. While Lawson and Say It! Say It! started the show off right, Sheppard brought it home with one of their best shows ever. It was a great way to kick-off what is sure to be a spectacular tour.