Monday, November 20, 2017. Terminal 5, NYC. Bleachers, Bishop Briggs, Amy Shark.
Opening acts are the best way to find new music. If an opening act can command a venue of people who don’t even know who they are, they’re doing there job. That is just what Amy Shark and Bishop Briggs did on a chilly Monday night in the middle of November.
Amy Shark is an Australian singer-songwriter with a very unique blend of sounds. With Lorde-esque productions and lyrics (Aussies, right?), but somehow making it her own. She performed with a drummer and a keyboardist, and Shark would also play the guitar on certain tracks. She helped make a 3,000 capacity venue feel intimate, and she helped to set the tone for the rest of the night.
Right before she performed “Weekends,” she told a story about how she called a boy Peter’s home phone (before cell phones) and his mother picked up, and that when her mother called him to the phone, she pressed the phone so close to her ear so she could try and listen in on his life, does he have any pets or any siblings? Then she began to sing and the song went along with the story she told: “And I took your number quicker than my next breath / I call your house phone just to listen / to hear, what your life might sound like.” Before this show, I never heard of Amy Shark before, but her live performance drove me to obsess over her music.
Bishop Briggs is an alternative rock/indie pop artist hailing from London, England. In the summer of 2016, her song “River” was one of the hottest on alternative radio for the entire season, and the entire year of 2016 as well. I already had an idea of her music, because I knew her singles “River,” “Wild Horses,” “Dream,” and her feature on the Cold War Kids track “So Tied Up.”
Briggs had an intense energy on stage, but the 25 year old’s smile could not be wiped off of her face. She must have ran across the stage a thousand times during her 45 minute set. Briggs is a vocal powerhouse, and her live performance showcased that. She brought a new energy to the audience, who was patiently waiting for Bleachers’s set. She told the story of how she met Jack Antonoff (lead singer of Bleachers) in LA, and how he told her that her performance inspired him to go home and write music.
Where do I start?
If you don’t know Bleachers yet, you should. The indie pop/alternative band is one of my favorites of all time. They started the night off with the first track of their second album, Gone Now, “Dreams of Mickey Mantle,” with Jack Antonoff in his hat and jacket from their “Don’t Take The Money” music video. With the spotlight on Jack, the adventure began.
There is nothing comparable to watching a Bleachers show. There’s just something about the way they perform. They give every bit of themselves. There is so much passion, intensity, happiness, devotion, and sweat on the stage, all at once. In between songs Jack said, “all of us on this stage had to mess up something huge in our lives to be here.”
Towards the end of the night, Jack told the story of how Bleachers started. He was listening to a bunch of records and he was looking for a sound he kept hearing, and he searched for it. The sound was coming from a Roland Juno-106 synthesizer. Jack said he brought the synthesizer up to his room, put on headphones, and played a single note. He kept having one of the keyboardists, Evan, play that same tone, the note that started it all, and kept telling him to turn it off, and turn it back on. He then went on the explain in the silence of the venue (not a person was speaking, all eyes and ears were on him) that for a very long time his life was silent. The silence that filled the venue he explained to feel as if “anxiety was bounding off the walls.” He told Evan to play the note again. While the note was suspended Jack told us all that this one note, somehow felt comforting. There’s a certain kind of safety in it, and he asked the audience if we felt it too. Somehow, that one note made the silence he felt go away. Then, he told Evan to play the melody that began it all, and the crowd went wild when they heard the opening to one of his greatest hits, Rollercoaster.
After Rollercoaster, he brought the lights down and it was just him and Evan on stage, as opposed to his normal four-piece set up. He began to sing a tribute to Tom Petty with “American Girl” and he went straight into “Carry On” by his former band Fun. Next, was a heartfelt performance of “Like A River Runs,” which is the most emotional portion of the show. The song is about his sister who passed away when she was 13 and he was 18. The studio version is extremely amped up, but at the first Bleachers show I ever saw he explained that he plays it live the way it’s intended to be heard.
The show closed out with insane intensity with “I Wanna Get Better” and his debut single from Gone Now, “Don’t Take The Money.”
Bleachers give their blood, sweat, and tears at every show. Antonoff’s music is so deeply personal, it attracts a certain crowd who has felt the same sort of pain he has decided to share and put into words. I highly recommend going to see a Bleachers concert, even if you don’t listen to Antonoff’s music.
Listen to Amy Shark on Spotify here.
Listen to Bishop Briggs on Spotify here.
Listen to Bleachers on Spotify here.