June 8, 2017 Real Friends Connect Irving Plaza, NYC 6-2-17
It is a law that there cannot be a Pop Punk show without a stacked lineup, and Real Friends have been abiding by that law on the road with Tiny Moving Parts, Have Mercy, Broadside, and nothing,nowhere. Kicking the tour off back on April 27th, it has been a lengthy trek that has taken the tour across the USA before it finally comes to a close on June 9th near Real Friend’s home in Chicago, IL. Fortunately for New Yorkers, one of the final stops on the tour would come to Manhattan on Friday, June 2nd, when Real Friends and, well, friends, came to Irving Plaza.
A earlier than normal show, despite the fact that the doors opened at 5 PM, the club was already packed with fans waiting to spend their Friday night with each band on the night’s bill. It is impressive that Real Friends have managed to gain such a massive following with only two studio albums and two EPs under their belt. Good for them, perhaps it has something to do with the Tinley Park, Illinois band’s honesty, openness, and connection with their fans. Like each of the bands on the night’s bill, Real Friends’ music features lyrics on topics like relationships and mental health – a subject the band are very open about.
In addition, just prior to this run, Real Friends put together a “$5 ticket tour” which saw the band performing in smaller, unorthodox venues for a low ticket cost so that they could give back to the fans who have supported them since the beginning. A cool idea, Real Friends have earned millions of plays on streaming services, and the five-piece have sold out multiple stops on this current tour in support of their second LP, The Home Inside My Head. That in mind, Irving Plaza was excited for the early show to begin.
With people packed closely together, Nothing, Nowhere (stylized as nothing,nowhere.) took the stage on a mission. The musical project of one man from Massachusetts who goes simply by nothing,nowhere., he has already garnered a pretty significant fan following and millions of listens on his Soundcloud. He is known for his mix of Emo, Hip-Hop, and raw lyrics.
Ready to impress NYC, nothing,nowhere. brought with him a guitarist and drummer to help bring his show to life. With a very atmospheric set, he won over the crowd by combining melodic singing and impressive Rap in tracks like “Letdown,” “I’ve Been Doing Well,” new release “Clarity in Kerosene,” and “Deadbeat Valentine” to close out their interesting performance. Those interested, check out his latest music video for “Clarity in Kerosene” released back on May 18th.
Next up was Richmond, VA Pop-Punk outfit Broadside. Band members – Niles Gregory (guitar), Pat Diaz (bass), Dorian Enrique Cooke (guitar), and Ollie Baxxter (vocals) – took the energy in the room to a new level with their impressive performance. Since forming in 2010, working through multiple lineup changes, they since solidified themselves as rising stars in their genre following the release of their 2015 debut album, Old Bones.
Anxious to get the party started, the stage was decorated with appropriately gaudy neon signs screaming “Paradise,” the title of the band’s forthcoming new album due out on June 16th via Victory Records. That embedded in spectators minds, Broadside kicked off their set with “Come & Go” and almost the whole crowd went insane. Following that up with fan-favorite “Storyteller,” before new track “Hidden Colors,” Baxxter and the band fed off the crazy energy given by the crowd, both getting more hyped as the set progressed.
Ending their set with the slower, more emotional track “A Light in the Dark,” they soon closed out with their most well-known song, “Coffee Talk.” A great way to wrap up their set, the audience went wild in the finale, jumping and singing along with every word. In fact, Broadside finished their set with such insane energy they could easily have been the headliner. With the trajectory the band is on lately though, they will most likely be headlining their own tours pretty soon.
After that explosive performance came Baltimore Indie Rock/Emo outfit Have Mercy. The band has been pretty consistent since forming in 2011 – they have released an EP, several splits, and three studio albums, including their most recent – April 2017’s Make the Best of It. Composed of members Ryan Harris (guitar), Nate Gleason (guitar), Luke Smartnick (drums), and Brian Swindle (lead vocals/guitar), the band has been making waves with their raw, emotional music.
Although they did not quite have the same hyperactive energy as Broadside, fans willingly sang along to dark opening song “Smoke and Lace,” but once Have Mercy moved into one of their oldest tracks, “When I Sleep,” the excitement in the room picked up, doing so throughout the set. Keeping the momentum going through “Coexist,” “Two Years,” “Disagree,” and the heavy new banger “Good Christian Man,” Have Mercy had an energy all their own. Then, an eager supporter in the crowd screamed a request for the band’s most popular track, “Let’s Talk About Your Hair,” and Swindle said that they would perform it only if the crowd went crazy. Happily obliging, everyone did just that as Have Mercy put the finishing touch on an excellent set. For those who missed Have Mercy on this run, Brian Swindle will be hosting a special July acoustic tour with support from Chase Huglin, so be sure to check it out.
Kicking off with some impressive, Math-Rock style guitar tapping from Matthiesen on “Good Enough,” the opening track from 2016’s Celebrate, the band gave the performance their all as fans responded in-kind with a non-stop mosh pit. Keeping the energy high with the sweet “Sundress,” followed by “Stay Warm,” and “Birdhouse,” it was one exciting song after another. Then, amping it up more, they were joined by nothing,nowhere. on “Common Cold,” a song originally recorded with a vocal piece by Conor Murphy from Foxing. After hyping up the crowd for Real Friends, Tiny Moving Parts closed out their exciting set with “Headache” and their classic, mostly-vocal “Dakota.” Also a band worth checking out, those up in Fargo, ND, Tiny Moving Parts are coming your way on July 19th to play The Aquarium.At this point in the night, Irving Plaza was fully packed and buzzing when Real Friends’ Brian Blake (drums), Dave Knox (lead guitar), Eric Haines (rhythm guitar), Kyle Fasel (bass), and Dan Lambton (vocals) finally took the stage. Their stage design was unique – it was set up with an old-fashioned television, wood paneled walls with empty picture frames, and lamps to replicate the album cover of the band’s most recent record, aforementioned The Home Inside My Head.
Ready to go, the crowd practically exploded when the band went into their first song, “Empty Picture Frames.” Jumping, moshing, and screaming along to every word of “Colder Quicker,” even still, Fasel asked them to kick it up a notch for the next track, and many happily agreed as crowd-surfers flew high during “Loose Ends.” The mosh pit continued throughout “Floorboards” and fan-favorite “Late Nights in My Car.” Then, as fun as it was to watch the insanity taking place in the crowd during these opening tracks, the band’s musicianship demanded attention, as each song was brought to life with incredible energy and fidelity to its original recording.
Following that, it was on to the vocal-heavy “Mokena,” during which fans could be heard singing even louder than Lambton. Fasel then told the crowd that they were as much a part of the band as those on stage, and everyone responded warmly with massive cheers. Few bands are as appreciative of their fans as Real Friends seem to be, and that connection created a fun and positive environment inside Irving Plaza. Proving Fasel’s point, mostly everyone sang the last fews lines of “Old Book” as Lambton held the microphone over them.
Then, all members except Lambton, Knox, and his acoustic guitar briefly exited the stage. Lambton begged the crowd to put their phones down for the next song and asked everyone to be present for the moment before the two performed “I’ve Given Up On You.” Once again, the audience nearly drowned out Lambton with their singing. As soon as the rest of the band returned to the stage, Real Friends continued their set with “To: My Old Self” and “Maybe This Place is The Same.” An adrenaline rush all the way through, the most intense moment of the night came when Fasel asked fans to split the crowd down the middle and form a wall of death, crashing into each other as the band went into “Dead.” A huge circle pit broke out and kept its momentum going through “Anchor Down” and the last song of the main set, “Mess.”
Once the set concluded, the pumped up crowd chanted and cheered for one more song, so, of course, Real Friends filed back onto the stage. Before playing their encore, Lambton took a moment to discuss the importance of talking about and caring for one’s own mental health. Listening with ears wide open, everyone responded to the band’s openness and gave their all during the final track, “Summer,” marking the end of a fun, Pop-Punk-packed evening.
While this absolutely killer tour nears its final dates, each band has plans laid out for the coming months. As for Real Friends, they will soon be taking over Australia, but hopefully they will find their way back to NYC soon.
Photos by: Aintellin Photography