Emery is one of those bands that has stood the test of time for me. For almost 10 years, I have found myself turning to their music time and again. In their songbook they have everything from absolutely stunning acoustic based songs with triple vocals, to extremely heavy songs that make you want to drive fast. I have seen them play a few times, but I have never been able to photograph them. Frankly, they just don't play enough in my area.
Unfortunately for me, the NYC show they were playing was at the Studio at Webster Hall. The venue is notoriously tough to shoot- no photo pit, 320 people crammed against the stage, dark to almost no lighting, tons of smoke...oof. If it wasn't for the fact that it was Emery, I probably would not have shot this show. But on Wednesday May 8, I was there ready to go.
On the plus side though, I found out that my friends in Lovelectric were one of the opening bands. Hailing from my backyard, they have been blowing up lately. A mixture of just 5 guys making really fun pop- rock music. I have hung out with them a bunch, done more than 1 photo-shoot, but I had only seen the guys play once. So I was pumped about them opening.
For those of you who have never listened to them, you should click here to see their amazing cover of "Don't You Worry Child." It's legit. Seriously.
Lovelectric sounded fantastic. They kept the crowd interested, joking around in between songs. You could see 300 people who had never heard of them before bobbing their heads. After they left the stage it was easy to see that they made several new fans that night.
Next up hailing from California was Lido Beach. Treating the show as a record release party, they played their own brand of pop-rock.
Here is the weird part about writing reviews, wanting to be honest without hurting feelings. But I have to be honest, and honestly, I was not a fan. The music was ok, but something about the singer really rubbed me the wrong way. His stage antics felt forced, and he just seemed really arrogant without having any great music to back it up. At one point he cut off his own bass player while he was trying to thank the crowd. After they played I talked to the crowd around me and they all felt the same way pretty much. Just not a favorite of mine.
Next up was another band I did find myself liking, Peace Mercutio. Hailing from Seattle, this band featured two frontmen/guitar players/singers trading vocals with ease. Their website mentions Anberlin, Jimmy Eat World and Foo Fighters as influences, and this feels pretty spot on. Their energy was high and the crowd responded accordingly.
It started getting really sweaty in NYC.
The Seeking was the final band up before the main event. Obviously super young, but already a fantastic live band. Hailing from California, The Seeking had a lot of fans in the audience, judging by the shirts and hats I saw all around me. They had a fantastic energy that was met by the crowd's enthusiasm. I liked them. Great vocals mixed in with some screams, but it didn't feel forced.
It was finally time for Emery to take the stage. As I mentioned earlier, I expected this to be tough to shoot. I was not mistaken. It was super dark, smoky, crowded, small with constant red light. Pretty much impossible conditions for shooting. It bummed me out a little because I have been wanting to shoot this band for years. You work with what you are given, and I did just that.
The band though, they came ready to play a loud, fast show. And that they did. Toby and Josh traded vocals back and forth, and everyone sang along with them. I have to mention too how much of a wild man Josh was on stage. He was in the crowd constantly, swinging from the rafters at other times, singing along face to face with the fans.
Emery played a blistering 12 song set that included Cutthroat Collapse, Chevel Glass, Scissors, The Party Song, Walls, and Studying Politics as an encore. At almost every show the band comments that "this is the best/loudest/wildest show ever", when Emery says it though, you believe them. I cannot imagine them playing a crazier show than they did last week.
Being such an intimate room, Emery had interactions with the fans constantly. There was one fan though, who took it a little too far. One guy kept grabbing Toby and Josh all night: by the shirt. By the throat. By the microphone. At one point Toby snaked out of this guys' grasp and audibly said, "Ok, let me do work, ok?" I am 110% sure that most other people would have straight up punched this guy in the face. It got so bad that the crowd started trying to keep him back every time this guy would try to surf to the front.
Overall, Emery sounded as great as you could possibly sound playing The Studio. At times, the crowd was louder than the band and I know there is no way they could hear themselves.
I would also have to say that I missed former member Devin. He played bass and sang in Emery for years. There are not too many guys who sound better together than Toby and Devin did- their voices sounded like they were meant to sing together. On songs like Ponytail Parade, In Shallow Seas We Sail and a couple others, I missed those harmonies. I think I may have been the only person who noticed though.
The other thing that bugged me was that Emery had to play The Studio. A band 10 years into their career with their catalog of incredible songs, I am not sure why they are not bigger than they are. IN a world of Ke$ha and Lady Ga Ga, somehow they got lost in the shuffle. I would love for them to get the recognition they deserve and come back to NYC and put on a show at a killer venue.
Few complaints aside, it was a great night. I wish Emery toured in my area more, but I am glad I was able to catch the show. They are not on tour this second, but I am telling you, especially if you are reading this in the NYC/NJ area, whenever they play here, just go. I don't care if they are playing the parking lot of a Wal Mart, I will be there.
Toby, Josh, Matt and Dave, thanks for getting sweaty with NYC. Come back soon.