January 8, 2015 Gavin DeGraw returns to The Paramount Huntington, NY 12-11-14
‘Tis the season to be joyful, and what better way to do so then enjoy some live music. Two weeks prior to Christmas day on Thursday December 11th, New York native Gavin DeGraw appeared at The Paramount in Huntington, New York for the third time in three years. DeGraw, currently on tour with his brother and fellow singer-songwriter Joey, recently wrapped up a successful run with Matt Nathanson in the summer of 2014. Gavin, who is the younger of the two siblings, released his fifth studio album, Make a Move, in October 2013 and continued to tour after the October 2014 release of his greatest hits compilation Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw, which also includes two new tracks. Hard to believe Gavin has been around long enough to warrant a greatest hits compilation, but it was actually over a decade ago the talented performer broke onto the scene with his debut album Chariot. Featuring the “I Don’t Want to Be”track, which was selected as the theme song to hit teen drama One Tree Hill, Chariot was ultimately certified platinum, establishing DeGraw’s standing as a mainstream superstar. Well aware of what he has to offer a crowd, many familiar faces were around The Paramount, making the trip from Long Island for the night of feel good tunes ahead.
While not as well-known as his younger brother, Joey DeGraw is a respected musician who has been involved with the New York City music scene since moving there with Gavin in 1998. He has two full-length studio albums under his belt, Midnight Audio (2005) and Say Something Strong (2009), and in August of 2014 he released a five song EP titled The Business of Love. When he first took the stage, introducing his band as The Steady Drinkers, the crowd was small, but as he played a solid set featuring songs off the new EP such as the track “On and On,” along with some earlier tracks, that quickly resulted in a growing audience. DeGraw has resisted big-label influence, preferring to release music on his own terms and on his own label, National Underground Records, which he co-owns with Gavin. Still, along with gathering a modest, but loyal fan base, he has garnered a great deal of respect among people in the industry. He is more concerned with artistry than recognition, and his talent and passion were evident when he was on stage. By the end of the set, he would amassed a sizable crowd who demonstrated their appreciation for the less-famous, but just as gifted brother of the headliner.
The Paramount was filled almost to capacity by the time Gavin DeGraw hit the stage. Clad in crisp head-to-toe black and a jaunty fedora (in stark contrast to his brother’s laid-back baseball hat and tee shirt), he radiated confidence. Supported by his current touring band, Billy Norris (guitar), James Cruz (Bass), David Maemone (keyboards), and Travis McNabb (drums), DeGraw played a handful of songs before taking a quick break to address the audience. When he asked who had seen him perform live before, about three-quarters of the audience responded that they had, demonstrating that, like his brother, Gavin too has a loyal bunch of fans, especially in his hometown of New York.
Standing strong, DeGraw’s appeal endures as evidence by the outstanding performance at The Paramount. The instrumentation was masterful, and the band acted as unobtrusive support for the charismatic singer at center stage. When DeGraw played “Follow Through,” which he explained was the first song he had brought to labels and radio stations early in his career, the crowd responded by singing along loudly to the final chorus. Appreciating their enthusiasm, DeGraw took a step back from the vocals and allowed the audience to take over. This exchange of energy was maintained throughout the night as DeGraw, whether seated behind a piano or running across the stage, gave his fans his all, and they responded in kind. Offering more excellent tracks such as “Best I Ever Had,” hit “I Don’t Want to Be,” as well as “Not Over You,” the night was full of magic until the final notes and dissipation of applause.
The DeGraw brothers both put on a show that was a treat for audiences at The Paramount, and although it looks like they will be taking a well-deserved break from touring for the time being, chances are it will not be long before one or both make an appearance in their hometown of New York again soon. Fans of the soulful Indie Rock they offer would do well to see them live next time the opportunity arises.