Half the Animals, All The Sound

By Farhin Lilywala, Contributing Writer

“NYC,  let’s cheers!” Half the Animal lead singer Chase Johnson said to the audience as he welcomed the crowd to the band’s show at Rockwood Music Hall this Tuesday. For a brief few hours, people were able to get a break from the cold as they stepped into the venue where emerging alternative-pop rock band Half the Animal came alive on stage. The band reached everyone in the room with its energy and talent, captivating the audience with their strong and relatable persona.

The crowd of about 70 people was an interesting mix of singles, couples and friends, all from different age groups over 21 — not just the typical concert-going hipsters.

The band played a handful of covers from crowd favorites like Kings of Leon and also gave a little taste of their new original music with their songs “Babylon” and “Saturday Night.” The crowd cheered for their covers, but as the group hit the opening chords of “Saturday Night,” the enthusiasm in the room was nearly tangible. People were dancing and feeding off the energy of the band, and it was clear that many were sad to see them go at the end of their showcase.

“Babylon” holds a deep connection for lead singer Chase Johnson —it details his story of growing up and conquering old habits. Their follow-up single “Saturday Night,” on the other hand, is less intimate and nostalgic. Rather, it depicts the addiction of repeated unhealthy relationships that can feel just as intoxicating as the last late-night of the weekend.

Half the Animal hails from Los Angeles and consists of vocalist Chase Johnson, drummer Nick Gross, guitarist Dan Graham and bassist Evan Smith.

Johnson and Gross met in Laguna Beach, California when they were barely teenagers and were given a spot in the entertainment industry early on with roles on the television show “Laguna Beach.” A few years later, Smith entered the picture after his own experience of touring with several bands. Early in 2016, Graham joined and completed the foursome that the band is now. They looked at these new changes as a way to start fresh — especially Johnson and Gross who had been down this road before.

“This entire time we’ve played together there has always been a greater vision, a completely new brand with a clear identity that would mold itself over time through our experiences,” Gross says on their website. “Some of these experiences have been agonizing; but they have been crucial to the evolution of the band and our new identity.”

The band started anew by signing a label deal with STRZ Records last year. Their debut EP “Shapes” is all about the changing characters or shapes of people and of life. “Shapes” comes out March 31 on iTunes and Spotify.

Email Farhin Lilywala at music@nyunews.com.

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