By Rachel A.G. Gilman
For Fresh 102.7 being a radio station that plays “hot adult contemporary” music, the crowd for the station’s second annual Fall Fest at Beacon Theatre on Oct. 16 was heavily composed of parents and kids. The line-up, composed of Nico & Vinz, Matt Nathanson, Bleachers, Ingrid Michaelson, and Neon Trees, felt a little too compact for the three-hour show.
Nico & Vinz, the self-proclaimed “afro-Vikings” who had this summer’s hit “Am I Wrong,” opened the night. Despite a seated, half-empty crowd, the duo was quite happy to be there, dancing in semi-sync with each other and doing their best to perform tracks from their just released album, “Black Star Elephant.” Overall, their energy was well received.
Next up was Matt Nathanson for an acoustic set of four songs, joking that his full band didn’t come to New York anymore after passing out this summer during a performance in Central Park. Although short, his set included hits “Faster” and “Come On Get Higher,” as well as the reading of a humorous email from Nathanson’s four year-old daughter’s teacher about her inappropriate behavior in class that day, making it an extremely personable experience.
Most disappointing of the night and stuck in the middle of the line-up was Bleachers, Jack Antonoff, which seemed to bring in a larger crowd than the headliners. However, the group was out of it for most of their set, bouncing around in a jumbled mess. Antonoff mumbled the lyrics too quietly over music that was too loud as he continuously knocked his white baseball cap off his head, distractedly. Despite playing all of the hits off their debut album—“Wild Heart,” “Rollercoaster,” “I Wanna Get Better”—it wasn’t until they covered “Dreams” by The Cranberries that the crowd started to stand.
Ingrid Michaelson, despite whispers among the crowd, was not joined by bestie Sara Bareilles, though her set did include the tune they wrote together, “The Winter Song.” She fell into the same problem as Antonoff of frequently having her backing band overpower her vocals, and also found troubles in tuning her ukulele, remembering her lyrics, and keeping her leather crop top grazing just above her leather, knee-pad pants.
Neon Trees closed out the night with a performance as vivid as front man, Tyler Glenn’s, multi-colored leather jacket. Through a seamless set list of hits from “Animal” to “Text Me In the Morning,” including “Mad Love” with vocals from drummer Elaine Bradley, Glenn commanded the stage like a new wave David Bowie, twirling on the toes of his Doc Martens and calling out those in the front row who weren’t into it. Glenn also talked about his public coming out this past April, revealing that many songs off Neon Trees’ latest release, “Pop Psychology,” were inspired by his romantic troubles, including “Sleeping With a Friend.” The foursome sounded better than they do on their records, making their music a true experience and giving Fall Fest the finale it needed to be categorized as a success.
Rachel A.G. Gilman is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org