The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY
July 25th, 2012
Concert Review: Evans Blue at The Studio at Webster Hall
The frontman is synonymous with the identity of a rock band. The face to the crowd. The focal point of the live show. Following the release of two successful albums, Toronto’s Evans Blue unceremoniously dismissed singer Kevin Matisyn and began the search for a replacement- not only the person to provide vocals in the studio and out on tour, but a new face of their band. Their search would bring them to St. Louis, Missouri, where they would select veritable unknown Dan Chandler to become their new frontman. Wednesday night, Chandler and company would make their return to New York City to the intimate space of The Studio at Webster Hall. With no barricade and no security to speak of, fans were invited to get as close to the band as possible for the intimate 75 minute set.
As the recent subject of a LocalBozo.com interview, Chandler promised that much of the show would revolve around the band’s latest release, “Graveyard of Empires” (2011), his second with the group, but a much more comfortable one to work on for the now fully integrated singer. The first half of the band’s set in fact, was the album played in order, in its entirety, to the delight of the small but vocal group of fans on hand for the show. Opening with “This Time It’s Different,” the band defiantly took the stage by force. Outfitted in a black t-shirt and eschewing the mic stand in favor of his handheld grip, Chandler certainly looked the part of the prototypical hard rock singer from his look to his sound. His vocals alternated between beautiful head banging harmonies to barking choruses that rallied the Evans Blue faithful behind him, showing the talents that made him an ideal replacement for this band.
The five piece outfit remained mostly stationary on the diminutive Studio stage. And while they may not have wasted much time interacting with their audience, what Evans Blue may have lacked in charisma, they made up for in a harder than anticipated, pummeling rock performance. From the haunting vocals of “In the Shadow” to the communal jumping fans during “Halo,” the band’s new material sounded as tight as ever. The final and familiar six songs however were a revelation that despite a new set of pipes on stage, Evans Blue hasn’t lost a step. The infectious choruses of “Sick of It” (featuring State Your Cause singer James Scott) and “Say It” gave the crowd the chance to sing back toward the stage together as guitarists Parker Lauzon and Vlad Tanaskovic prodded them on with unforgiving riffs.
Noticeably (and unfortunately) absent from the set however, were the band’s successful singles from 2007’s “The Pursuit Begins When This Portrayal of Life Ends,” which rank amongst Evans Blue’s most well known tunes. But as the band paced through familiar versions of a heavy “Bulletproof” and a sing-a-long inspired “Cold (But I’m Still Here),” nobody seemed to think about what was missing from the set. Meanwhile, “Over” became an audience led rallying cry that perhaps best showed off Chandler’s range on stage. With no encore, the band closed out with “Erase My Scars,” a slow, heavy, riff-laden three minutes that gave even more credence to a band that is infinitely more likable after having watched them perform in a live setting.
- Jane Van Arsdale