May 31, 2016 X Ambassadors Inspirational at Terminal 5, NYC 5-13-16 w/ Robert Delong & Sara Hartman
New York natives X Ambassadors have been making quite a splash since the release of their 2013 major label debut EP, Love Songs Drug Songs. A unique Alternative Rock outfit, Sam Harris (lead vocals, guitar, saxophone), Casey Harris (keyboard), Noah Feldshuh (guitar) and Adam Levin (drums) continue to rise to new heights following the release of the 2015 full-length album VHS. A record that hit # 7 on the Billboard 200, VHS has been a massive success and X Ambassadors continue to tour in its support well into 2016. Beginning their VHS Tour 2.0 in March, the run continues along well into late August with sold out dates throughout. Among those sold out shows was a special hometown visit to New York City on Friday, May 13th at Terminal 5. A superstitious, rare date on the calendar where anything can happen, X Ambassadors, along with the help of Sara Hartman and Robert Delong, made sure to keep the night full of mystique from start to finish.
First to greet the multi-level venue was Hartman with keyboardist and drummer, looking cool, calm and collected in all black. As a world traveler, the Long Island, New York born Hartman moved to Germany to explore her music further. Coming off the European leg of Ellie Goulding’s Delirium Tour, Hartman is on an all-time high. With music that gives off an easy, airy feel, she is now supporting her April 2016 released EP, Satellite, a debut that displays a large amount of maturity.
Excited to be performing in front of her home state, Hartman opened with a rendition of Jamie XX’s “Stranger In a Room,” a soft, mellow, Sheryl Crow- esque track with acoustic guitar and a simple soft, smoky, raspy voice. Comparable to the likes of Lissie, with the air of a free spirit, the audience seemed to be mellowed as she moved into single “Monster Lead Me Home,” an upbeat track involving electric guitar. From there, Hartman explained her story, no doubt leaving every young girl with musical aspirations of wanting to drop everything and go where their heart desires to find new inspiration.
Going on to play “Satellite,” it gave off the perfect summer vibe, with twinkling keyboard sounds and intricate guitar patterns. Her final track was “Two Feet Off The Ground,” which talks of dreaming and is upbeat, with a switches to electric guitar. Throughout the set, her soft falsetto tone was just as beautiful as the smokiness that saturated her voice. Humbled and moved by all the support from New York’s reaction in her long absence, the world no doubt will see more of Sara Hartman in the future.
Next up was main support, Robert Delong. An electronic artist residing in Colorado, Delong’s act is artistic in multiple ways, from the arrangement of his songs to the stage setup. True fans of Delong come dressed for the occasion, a tradition started by Delong himself, as he wears a simple, but pretty geometric line pattern on his cheek with neon colors such as green and orange. As the lights went down, the crowd began to cheer loudly as they knew that this set would be a party.
Getting everyone moving, he began the title track off his 2015 album, In the Cards. Running around the stage, with his various assortments of instruments; from a Wii remote to an Xbox controller, creating the beats himself, Delong easily captured the attention of everyone. He followed with “Religious Views,” a cut off his debut EP, Global Concepts. While the music was all electronic, besides a drum kit, Delong still showcased creative new ways to make the song different. Next came the lead single off In the Cards, “Don’t Wait Up,” a track that was recently the subject of a music video. With everyone singing along with the mellow track, the heaviness of beats made for an enticing listen, which he followed up with the upbeat song “Jealousy.”
On the spur of the moment, Delong threw the crowd for a loop, interluding with a song called “Can You Hear Me.” A slower piece, it showed his true musicianship. Then, bringing the tempo right back up, “Future’s Right Here” had everyone dancing again before the set moved into the bubbly and light electronic sound of “Happy Next.” It was exceptional lively as he flowed into the closer with 2013’s “Global Concepts,” which had everyone going crazy. At only thirty years age, Delong has certainly created a name for himself that will continue to grow as he moves forward.
The time had arrived for X Ambassadors to take the stage. Becoming a wonderful story in multiple ways, going from underdogs to a sold out show, as the lights went dim, the crowd screamed as the band came out with thunder. Jumping right into “Loveless,” Sam began jumping around, riling the audience up even more. Casey, approaching the keyboard with a walking stick in toe, because he has been blind since birth, immediately began to dominate with each key stroke. Quite a start, they had bodies moving for the more electronic “Hang On.” Only two songs in, a funky, fun celebration seemed to be starting as Sam welcomed all. Encouraging them to let go and have a good time, the crowd spread out throughout Terminal 5, coming from all walks of life, united to do such.
Moving along, they played the title track of Love Songs Drug Songs, a heavy hitter about not giving up. Incorporating brass instruments, heads in the crowd start nodding in excitement. They then went on to play “Fear,” a song that is more electronic and even funkier. Following up with “Unsteady,” their third single off VHS, everyone began to sing along as cell phone lights came out with everyone swaying back and forth. Overwhelmed by the positive response, Sam was humbled and a little emotional, soaking the moment in. Capitalizing on that high, Harris dedicated the next song, “Low Life,” to those who feel like losers in the world. An undeniable feeling of inadequacy felt by many, the song resonated loudly as A$AP Ferg came out to sprinkle in some freestyle.
Showing off his abilities on saxophone, Sam jammed on “Naked,” adding a soulful texture to the mood. Then, Casey’s keyboard performance almost gave it a church-like praising, which entranced everyone. Showing just how diverse their music is, they then went into “Nervous,” which features a beautiful guitar strum pattern along with a Spanish, tingling sound. Sam took his voice to new heights as the harmonies between Feldshuh and Harris were spot on. After the song was over, Sam began to freestyle about his love for New York. A wonderful interlude, it melded into their steamy, sensual track “Gorgeous” as Sam went to an even higher pitch vocally. Meanwhile, Casey was given his spotlight to freestyle on piano, dazzling the room, proving regardless of any obstacles or adversities, one can accomplish their dreams.
With the main set winding down, they went into heavy-hitting track “Jungle” before Sam introduced each member of the band. Thereafter, they jumped into mega-hit “Renegades” as Terminal 5 began booming with multiple voices singing along. As the song ended, people cheered extensively as Sam thanked everyone, walking his brother Casey off the stage. Exceptional, people wanted more, and more they received when Sam and Casey played a cover of the late Prince’s “Purple Rain.” A fitting tribute, Sam’s performance was heartfelt and soulfully spot on. With emotions running high, they close with “Unconsolable,” where Sam stunned everyone one last time on saxophone.
X Ambassadors are a group of so-called misfits who have risen to the top with their songs of empowerment and self love. Robert Delong is an artist all about becoming a pioneer with the power of electronic music. Sara Hartman is a travelling pioneer of her own who seems to know her style of music and what she wants. Together, all of these artists brought out a powerful message; to stay true to who we are as individuals. With that said, they are all here to stay and will all conquer more audiences from now into the distant future.