Music Reviews — 24 June 2015
Bastille & Questlove Headline NYC’s ‘Evolution’ Stop

The Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour f. Bastille & Questlove

A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY
June 23, 2015

 

For a look at our coverage from 2014′s Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour, click here.

 

The highly anticipated Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour triumphantly returned to New York City on Tuesday night, kicking off a five city trek across the United States. In its second banner year, the event again combined live music, fashion and artistry while expertly applying the same premium standard associated with the Mercedes-Benz brand inside of a buzzing Hammerstein Ballroom. With sets headlined by British-indie band Bastille and the returning Questlove opening the show on the turntables, the thousands of fans in the building were utterly enthralled by an evening that went far beyond the realm of any traditional concert.

Blog: MB Evolution Tour 2015

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Part of what makes the now annual affair so special is the fact that there’s so much going on aside from the tremendous live acts. Car aficionados were undoubtedly thrilled to catch a glimpse of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, a compact luxury automobile geared toward the kind of well-to-do tastemakers that might enjoy a night on the town such as this one, where an open bar serving hand-crafted cocktails and Heinekens would further fuel the masses. An interactive art exhibition courtesy of Zio Ziegler would be staged opposite the car allowing guests the opportunity to watch a massive canvas be decorated by the artist’s masterful hands. A photo gallery, screen printing stations and a full on beauty bar would continually draw patrons to each of their stations, in between and even during some of the performances. But to no surprise, it was the headlining acts that proved to be the evening’s most captivating highlight.

As the evening’s house DJ, Drummer of The Roots and bandleader for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Questlove, performed for roughly an hour, mixing current pop and hip hop tracks with throwback tunes to the delight of the gathered crowd in the standing room space. Guests continued to file into the building, grabbing Kind bars and bottles of Fiji Water along the way as Quest, joined by his emcee, bobbed his head on stage to each passing song. Though the two balcony portions of the Ballroom remained largely empty, lines for the bar were considerably shorter there, making the ability to grab a quick drink and return to watch the live music a fundamental activity for getting one’s drunk on.

Concert Review: Bastille at Hammerstein Ballroom

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After a brief set change, Bastille frontman Dan Smith led his four piece band on stage to an uproarious reaction from the jam packed crowd. Launching into “Things We Lost in the Fire,” the singer barely stopped jumping in place during the 75 minute mostly fast-paced set that leaned heavily on the band’s debut album, 2013′s “Bad Blood.” Donning a ‘Ghostbusters’ t-shirt, Smith alternated between playing a keyboard and methodically smashing a bass drum to punctuate particularly aggressive moments in each song as his bandmates rallied behind him in the background resulting in a hybrid of synth-pop and indie-rock, one that you’d expect from a band that’s enjoyed such commercial success in the states and abroad over the past few years.  Crowd-pleasers like “Laura Palmer” and “Flaws” paced the preponderance of the 17 song set, while new songs “Hangin’” and the haunting “Snakes” foreshadowed a melodic rock glimpse at what’s in the pipeline for the young group.

Just as the crowd was getting settled in, Smith and company admirably led an inspired and particularly memorable take on a classic TLC song as “No Angels” forced many in attendance to dance along in place while singing every lyric aloud. Though guitars were in short order, the bass heavy performance relied on the marriage between Smith’s vocal range and methodically placed beats to captivate the sea of bobbing heads that lay before them. Electronic-infused tracks like “Weight of Living, Pt. II” and “The Draw” offered a catchy touch of 1980′s style pop fare as precursors to “Pompeii,” the much anticipated show closer. Having ascended as high as number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, the rendition was a fitting sendoff to an already wild night as concertgoers jumped around in place in the same fashion as the band leader that stood above them. Passionate and impressive, Bastille was an undeniably appropriate choice to headline the New York City stop of the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour, which only seems to be getting better with each passing year.

- Dave Gendelson

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