The Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour f. Alabama Shakes & Questlove
A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Terminal 5, New York, NY
July 24, 2014
The Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour made its first stop locally on Thursday night at a jam packed Terminal 5 where thousands of fans flocked to the multi-tiered west side venue for an evening that combined art and live music seamlessly. The tour is set to run with eight more dates across major American cities featuring the likes of Young The Giant and Meyer Hawthorne on the remaining trek. Thursday night’s performance however featured The Roots’ own Questlove performing a DJ set and headlining rock act Alabama Shakes to effectively bring the house down in New York City.
Blog: Mercedes Benz Evolution Tour
The festivities kicked off in the early evening where invited guests swarmed the ‘black carpet’ for photo opportunities alongside some celebrity guests like former New York Ranger Sean Avery, DJ Chelsea Leyland, Chefs Josh Capon & Aaron Sanchez, Nicky Hilton and the boys from The Infatuation- Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal. Just steps away, eventgoers were given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of of Mercedes or take in Mr. Brainwash‘s live performance art show where he basically splashed gallons of colored paints across a splattered canvas, an on-site Mercedes-Benz GLA and on the skirt of an unsuspecting onlooker, who remained a good sport regardless.
At 9:30pm, drummer for both The Roots and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Questlove took centerstage, armed with just his quaff of hair and an Apple MacBook. For thirty minutes Quest said nary a word, instead dazzling the now dancing crowd with hard rock and metal classics, eventually culminating with top 40 pop and hip hop tracks, reflective of his eclectic musical tastes. The bars around the venue meanwhile were doling out countless pours of gratis Heinekens, Fiji Waters and some mixed drinks to the delight of a now loopy standing room audience. Meanwhile up on the second floor, attendees were welcome to customize their very own Mercedes-Benz logo t-shirts as keepsakes from the momentous evening.
Concert Review: Alabama Shakes at MB Evolution
Just as the clock struck 10:20pm though, onlookers made their way back toward the stage where Alabama Shakes were gearing up to do their thing. Led by charismatic frontwoman Brittany Howard, the six piece touring ensemble rocked a raucous crowd with their signature blend of blues meets country-style rock at a slowed, methodical pace. Eyes remained fixated on Howard, who paraded on stage with full ownership of the audience for the entire 75 minute blistering set. The Shakes spent some time unleashing some soon to be released new tracks, but the band’s utterly remarkable major label debut “Boys & Girls” (2012) paced the majority of the show. As it should, having peaked at number six on The Billboard 200 upon its release.
Howard immediately brought the crowd alive as she and her mates kicked the show off with southern swagger in the form of high octane openers “Rise to the Sun” and “Hang Loose.” Other familiar tunes like the catchy “Hang Loose,” “Be Mine,” and the defiantly precise “Heartbreaker” took turns making the crowd swoon in awe of the band’s electrifying performance. Though Howard is hardly a prototypical lead singer, she is surely a prolific one with a haunting and howling style of blues rock that is unparalleled despite the band’s relatively new arrival to the modern musical consciousness. The Shakes didn’t waste much time bantering with the crowd, instead opting to drop new tracks like “Gimme All Your Love” and closing with the previously unreleased bonus track “Heavy Chevy,” which with all due respect, deserved a position on their debut album. The collaboration of art and music spilled over into the next day, but there wasn’t anybody in the crowd that seemed to mind- dancing in place, donning their new shirts and slugging down their remaining beer- before heading for home, having been a full-on witness to the ‘Evolution’ on this night.
- Jane Van Arsdale