Music Reviews — 13 April 2012
Hot Chelle Rae at Irving Plaza: A LocalBozo.com Concert Review

Hot Chelle Rae
Irving Plaza, New York, NY
April 12th, 2012

Concert Review: Hot Chelle Rae at Irving Plaza

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Following a wildly successful string of sold out dates in support of The Script, Nashville’s Hot Chelle Rae returned to Manhattan on Thursday night in front of a sold out crowd at Irving Plaza. The energetic 75 minute set saw the band perform 2011’s break out album “Whatever” in its entirety along with a sprinkling of some fun covers and even a few tunes from their ‘ancient’ 2009 debut “Lovesick Electric.” While the demographic inside heavily skewed toward female youths, our spot at the back of the venue’s floor gave us a perfect vantage point to take in all of the show’s highlights. And yes, it allowed us to bob our heads along to some of the band’s hits which have become ingrained in our collective pop culture for the better part of the past year.

The all ages show promptly started off at 8:45, with the lights dimming down almost to the minute. A sea of high pitched screaming filled the space of the intimate venue as the young talented band took their turns in the spotlight, casually walking onto the stage one at a time to satiate the musical hunger of the now deafening audience. Around the room, parents seemed ushered off to the sides of the venue so that their sons and mostly daughters would have ample room to bum rush the stage, getting as close to the quartet as their diminutive bodies would allow. But all that said, as old as we felt standing amongst a crowd of teens inside- even our group managed to have a blast at this show.

Watching Hot Chelle Rae perform on stage, it’s difficult not to have an affinity for their talents. Each with boyishly good looks, writing catchy as hell songs, the band certainly seems to have an incredibly bright future ahead of them. The rousing screams initiated by the passionate crowd was certainly a sign of approval. The band launched with their opener, the pop-driven “Beautiful Freaks” into their biggest hit to date, last summer’s “Tonight Tonight,” during which you could hardly hear frontman Ryan Follese’s vocals over the lyrics screamed out by the audience, verbatim.

With just two albums under their belt, the extended headlining set length may have been a tad advantageous for the band, but mixing in a speedy acoustic cover of Weezer’s “I Want You To” and a deliberately paced cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” meshed with the band’s originals admirably. Slowing the latter down, the house lights were turned all the way up as the crowd sang Perry’s words right back to Follese in unison, as a sea of their hands clapped overhead. Guitarist Nash Overstreet repeatedly and successfully threw his guitar pick behind his back, catching it mid strum to the awe of the fans up close, as the rest of the audience alternated between young girl screams, waiving arms, and forming the shape of a heart with their little hands overhead.

The band’s performance mixed equal parts pop and rock (including Overstreet’s surprisingly rocking solos), with a colorful light show behind them, reminiscent of a Nickelodeon sitcom. But ultimately, it all worked together quite well. Hot Chelle Rae is at their best when sticking to what they do well- playing their faster, catchy pop songs with unmistakable hooks. “I Like to Dance” and “Radio” especially highlighted the band’s competencies live- delivering a dynamically lively performance, comfortably looking the part of a successful, headed for stardom rock band, and Follese’s tremendous vocals, which are just about perfect in person. By the time the chords of main set closer “I Like it Like That” began, the frenzied crowd exploded. The band called two superfans on stage to fill in the rhymes of New Boyz from the studio recording before heading offstage for their encore. The set concluded with the upbeat “Whatever” and a second rendition of “Tonight Tonight” which at first we questioned. But then, we found ourselves jumping up and down and singing every word all over again with the rest of the fans in the house. And with this band, on this night, it all just felt right.

- Jane Van Arsdale

Hot Chelle Rae – Live at Irving Plaza

New York, NY

April 12th, 2012

1. Beautiful Freaks
2. Tonight Tonight
3. Downtown Girl
4. I Like to Dance
5. Teenage Dream (Katy Perry Cover)
6. Keep You With Me
7. Honestly
8. The Only One
9. Why Don’t You Love Me
10. I Want You To (Weezer Cover)
11. Emo
12. Bleed
13. Forever Unstoppable
14. Radio
15. I Like It Like That
16. Whatever
17. Tonight Tonight

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