November 27, 2015 Plain White T’s Delight Revolution Amityville, NY 11-4-15 w/ Beta Play & Matthew McAndrew
Starting as a three piece band, Chicago, Illinois’ Plain White T’s formed in 1997 as high school friends. At the time made up of Tom Higgenson on guitar/vocals, Ken Fletcher on bass, and Dave Tirio on drums, the trio enjoyed an underground following for years playing basement shows along with local clubs and bars. When disaster struck in 1999 in the form of a major car crash, Higgenson was left with several broken vertebrae, and the future became uncertain. Temporarily derailing the band, Higgenson wound up in a back brace for several months and would need to learn to walk again. Using the experience to change his approach to the music he created, Higgenson and the Plain White T’s returned to the music scene reinvented and more focused on a more meaningful approach to the craft they loved.
Inspired to keep moving forward, Plain White T’s would go on to tremendous things as they worked hard as an independent band, thus becoming signed with Fearless Records and releasing Stop in 2002. Proving this a mere footnote in their accomplishments, 2006 would prove to be a big year for the band with the major success of international hit song “Hey There Delilah.” The single would all of a sudden make Plain White T’s a household name, and 2007 saw them attain their first gold-selling record with Every Second Counts. Since releasing three more studio records, including their first in five years with 2015’s American Nights, Plain White T’s are as strong as ever. Spending time on tour with Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry in 2014, many would say it was an appetizer for the masses to reacquaint themselves with the lovable band, who are perhaps set to offer new material. Now independent of record labels for the first time since 2001, Plain White T’s are touring in support of American Nights to fans delight.
Spending the Summer of 2015 on the road with Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas, Plain White T’s have been spending November partaking in select headlining shows across North America. Amidst their club tour, they made a stop at Revolution Bar and Music Hall in the village of Amityville, NY on Wednesday November 4th with support from Beta Play and Matthew McAndrew. A wonderful place to play, the feeling of attending a show at Amityville’s Revolution Bar and Music Hall is everything a music lover can ask for. It creates a very personal and welcoming sense as the mood was infectious in anticipation to see The Plain White T’s on stage.
To start the evening off, local Long Island band Shiffley took the stage. The Indie/Synth-Rock group normally comprised of five members: Alex Ganes (vocals, guitar), Alex Jenks (keyboard/synth), Bryan Conteras (drums), Shaune Killough (bass), and Will Rosati (guitar), were down one as Rosati is currently studying abroad. The band did not let this fact cramp the band’s sound or energy in the slightest as the four remaining members put on a performance that showed why they have placed as finalists in CBS’s Grammy Gig of a Lifetime and VH1’s Make A Band Famous competitions. Having played upon Revolution Bar’s stage in September as part of Patent Pending’s tour through Amityville, the band happily invited some fans back for a second time seeing the band play in front of Revolution’s trademark red-lit “R” while others in attendance were treated to their first look at the very talented group.
Opening with “Telephone,” the band would follow up with crowd favorite “Cry” off of the Anthem City EP. The easy to follow and beyond infectious “Woah ohoh Woah ohoh Woah ohoh” that is sung throughout the track had those in attendance playing along and dancing around. Building upon the hit, the band gave newcomers one more song to sing along with as they broke into a cover of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love.” The cover rivals the original in excitement and made the show worth the entire price of admission on its own right. Returning to the Anthem City EP, Shiffley slowed things down a little with “Ships.” The band then closed with a trifecta of newer tracks with “Knives,” “Up and Down,” and “Systems” before thanking those in attendance and leaving the stage. Those looking to see more from this talented group are encouraged to look into their two EPs, Atomic Robot Man and Anthem City.
Continuing right where Shiffley left off, Beta Play would be the next band to grace the stage in front of the Amityville crowd. Donned in a blue blazer, Lead Singer Tommy Cantillon was joined on stage by brother Michael, Matt Palermo, and Mike Dyer as the Santa Barbara, CA group invited those in attendance closer to the stage to start their set. The Pop/Alternative Rock group’s catchy beats and friendly demeanor captivated fans and built upon Shiffley’s performance before them.
Opening with “The Way We Play,” the crowd drew closer to the stage. As the song came to an end, Cantillon informed the Amityville crowd that there was only one wrong way to dance. He then proceed to stand still, arms crossed, to express how the only incorrect way was to not be dancing at all. This mantra was heightened as the band kicked into their second track of the night, “Innocent.” The band went on to play tracks from their new self titled EP, treating fans to tracks such as “I am the Prey,” “Heaven is Under the Sun,” “Do You Love Me?,” and “Electric 22.” Each of the tracks have their own unique sound and are made even more pleasurable by the band’s live performance. Closing with “Somebody Make a Move,” fans in attendance eagerly listened and moved along with the song. Still on tour with the Plain White T’s, the band is currently enjoying shows on the West Coast as the two bands soak in the California sun.
Slowing down the mood with a stripped down set, Matt McAndrew would take some time under the stage’s lights next, much to the crowd’s delight. Fans of hit television show The Voice will remember McAndrew as the runner up from season 7 as part of Team Adam (Levine). Growing up in Barnegat Light, New Jersey, McAndrew always had a penchant for music. Working at the national music school Bach to Rock, McAndrew taught students voice, guitar, and ukulele. In March of 2014, McAndrew released his first album, View of the Pines. His talents on The Voice quickly drew the praise of Adam Levine, who in February of 2015 happily announced that McAndrew had become part of the Class of 2015 lineup of artists, sealing the deal with a checkmark drawn (and later tattooed) on McAndrew’s wrist.
Joined on stage by two bandmates, Tim Schilling (acoustic guitar) and Anthony DeCarlo (electric guitar), McAndrew informed the audience that this show would be a little different than most as the full band was able to play. Much like whispering to make someone listen more, this set proved to grab the audience’s attention by providing those in attendance something different from what had preceded. With just small coffee cup in hand, McAndrew grabbed the microphone and brought the crowd through a journey. Opening with “Pins and Needles,” fans took interest and listened in to his set. McAndrew continued with a cover of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” which fan’s might remember him performing on his 5th round performance on The Voice.
Continuing with tracks such as “The Ledge” and “Past is Gone” built upon the foundation of McAndrew’s set. McAndrew took some time to introduce his two bandmates for the night before introducing a cover of Adam Levine’s “All Lost Stars” from the 2013 movie Begin Again. “Counting on Love continued the set and showcased McAndrew’s talents. Inviting his friend Alita Moses on stage to close with a duet of “Wasted Love,” the crowd sung along. Much like Beta Play, Matt McAndrew continues to tour with the Plain White T’s. His album View of the Pines is available now on his website MattMcAndrewMusic.com. The website also offers an acoustic two song digital download which includes tracks “Pins and Needles” and “Summer ’05” available for free, making it impossible to pass up.
With three acts down, it was time for headlining act Plain White T’s to make their way to the stage. With the lineup of Higgenson on vocals/acoustic guitar, Tim Lopez on lead guitar/vocals, Mike Retondo on bass/vocals, Tirio on rhythm guitar, and De’Mar Hamilton on drums grabbing their instruments, the band embraced the warm reaction before opening their set with new song “Pause.” Excited about American Nights, the band promised the night would be heavy on tracks from the release and did not disappoint as they went on to play “Time to Move On,” “Heavy Rotation,” which they declared to be a song about a girl from Queens, and “Never Working.” Taking off his leather jacket, Higgenson joked with the crowd after audience members noted he was wearing a plain black tee. As the group had fun with their fans, the four decided to dedicate the next song to those at the bar across the dance floor and began playing hit “1,2,3,4.” They then continued with older tracks as they played “The Giving Tree” before fully embracing their roots with “Take Me Away,” the first song they ever shot a music video for.
Returning to American Nights, the band took time to highlight cuts such as “Here Come That Sunrise” and “Someday You’re Gonna Love Me.” Then, the next song was introduced by Lope as he explained it was written by him when his heart was broken by an old flame. Exclaiming that he would come to learn that this woman was completely replaceable. As the women in the audience disapproved this proclamation, Lopez was quick to save himself by saying he is now happily remarried as they kicked into the song entitled “Sunlight.” As everyone, save for Higgenson and Hamilton, left the stage, the drummer grabbed a tambourine and joined the frontman center stage as he played “Should’ve Gone to Bed.” Returning to the stage with material off American Nights, they delighted fans with “Stay” before “Rhythm of Love” which would be the last song before Plain White T’s departed to a loud applause.
Higgenson reemerged alone with his acoustic guitar adorned in various stickers and encouraged the crowd to sing along with the aforementioned “Hey There Deliliah.” Revolution’s intimate setting with Higgenson center stage created the perfect atmosphere for long time fans to sing along with the artist. As the chorus to the song approached, Higgenson leaned away from his microphone to stir the crowd into singing loudly along with him. As the song came to an end, his fellow bandmates rejoined for a few songs to close the set. The first of those songs, as the band would exclaim, has just been released as a music video, called “American Nights.” Without break, the crowd quickly segued into longtime crowd favorite “Hate” to kick it up a notch. Jumping and swaying around, they closed out their set with “Our Time is Now” before the musicians took time to thank everyone who came and then dedicated the song to a crowd member who had been singing along loudly all night close to the stage.
As the performance came to an end, the band quickly made their way into the bar and merchandise area to connect, joke around with and take photos with their fans. Their personalities were unmatched as they had fun and showed their sense of humor through every conversation, showing they were as genuinely happy to be there as their fans were. As 2015 winds down, the band took a little time to return to the New York area as part of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade riding on the Royal Caribbean “Surf’s Up” float. The tour still has a small number of dates left in the California area and they just released the music video for “American Nights”. With that in mind, Plain White T’s latest album is an invaluable purchase for even the most casual of fans and justifies why they need to be seen live.