Best Buy Theater, New York, NY
December 11, 2012
Concert Review: Gavin DeGraw at Best Buy Theater
The Best Buy Theater was transformed into the proverbial North Pole on Tuesday night in celebration of the “95.5 WPLJ Holiday Party,” an evening that would feature personalities from the New York radio station, festive gift giveaways, and a live performance from pop duo Karmin. But the drawing card to the live show was the headlining set from singer Gavin DeGraw, a native New Yorker. The crooning frontman’s 75 minute set was a thorough rundown of his decade long career, with each song a friendly prodding to the mostly female audience, who spent much of the evening hooting and hollering at the singer’s every movement. Although DeGraw burst into our collective perception back in 2003 with the success of his hit single “I Don’t Want to Be” as the theme song from teen drama “One Tree Hill,” Tuesday night’s performance showed a mature, self-effacing artist who can hardly be considered a one trick pony.
The house lights dimmed at 9:30 sharp, prompting DeGraw’s four piece backing band to take their respective spots onstage. To no surprise, the loudest ovation of the night came as the singer emerged under a bright white spotlight, donning a black blazer and maroon fedora. Mixing equal parts soul and blues throughout the performance, DeGraw launched into the catchy “Sweeter,” an ideal opener to rally the already frenzied crowd to sing alongside him in unison. If the opening track set the tone for the evening, “In love With a Girl” allowed anyone remaining stoic in the audience to fully come out of their shell. The singer meanwhile alternated between taking a seat at his piano and pacing the stage back and forth to the delight of his screaming fans.
With pastel lights in pink and purple illuminating behind him throughout, tracks like “Soldier,” “Candy,” and the familiar “Follow Through,” which opened with a tease of The Script’s “Breakeven,” were each surprisingly soulful and energetic at once. While no song from the live set matched the singer’s energy or the crowd response of the aforementioned “I Don’t Wanna Be,” which was downright excellent, DeGraw surprised the New York City audience by bringing out singer Colbie Caillat for a stirring duet of “We Both Know” from the upcoming Josh Duhamel film “Safe Haven” (Due in February). Despite briefly sharing the spotlight however, this night was about the connection between DeGraw and his fans, who tirelessly screamed at the laid back singer from start to finish on this night. DeGraw meanwhile, ever the showman, held them in the palm of his hands- pausing to make each one of them feel special- even complimenting an especially stunning fan in the front row for her creatively worn sailor cap.
As the show neared its conclusion, the mood inside was nothing but jovial as we attempted to put the singer’s performance in perspective. With even more hits than we realized we were giving him credit for, Gavin DeGraw has certainly fashioned a wildly successful career for himself. It’s a testament to his talents as a songwriter and as a vocalist that the singer who penned his most well known track as a sappy television theme song, has truly matured into a surprisingly capable and fun to watch performer. And after seeing him in concert for the very first time, our only beef with Gavin DeGraw is that we wish that he would have given us some more time on stage to further appreciate the talents that he’s managed to cultivate over these last ten years.
- Jane Van Arsdale