I realize most people don't read this thing and that my musical tastes aren't exactly cutting edge, but I saw two shows worth celebrating this weekend.
Friday night Matt White and Edwin McCain shared the stage at Bay Shore's Boulton Arts Center. A former movie theater, the arts center is a gorgeous venue in a vibrant and buzzing downtown. Their fall season has already garnered a ton of top notch talents and Friday night's show was no exception. White walked on stage dressed to the nines. His hair was gelled, he had a Brooks Brothers blazer on, Burberry jeans and Italian leather shoes. He walked on stage with an heir of arrogance and a chip on his shoulder. And then he opened his mouth and hot damn he killed it.
Opening with "And The Beat Goes On," he coasted through his set with more effortlessness, swagger and attitude than any singer-songwriter I've seen this year (that's a list of about 50-60). Though his set was bogged down by saccharine relationship material, there were some clear standouts. "Taking on Water," and "Therapy," revealed a deeper, matured approach to songwriting while radio-ready hits "Falling In Love With My Best Friend," and "The Honeymoon Phase," pointed towards Jason Mraz 2.0. Four years ago White emerged as a major player in singer-songwriterdom with his Geffen-release Best Days, which received commercial and critical acclaim.
ut when Geffen severed ties with the likes of Weezer and Counting Crows to name a few, White also got the axe. He resurfaced again this year with It's the Good Crazy on new label Rykodisc and is returning to the forefront again with McDonald's McRib commercial. For more on White and his resurgence, head here.
McCain took to the stage with grace, humility and charm. Always comedic, always appreciative and unarguably one of the most charismatic performers this writer has ever seen, his set was passionate, polished and nothing short of terrific. Debuting new material, he offered up the driving rockers "Love Is For When It's Hard," an ode to his mother's battle with cancer; and "Sorry I'm A Little Sober," a nod to his battles with alcoholism.
Sprinkled in were old-school offerings like "Guinevere," and "Sorry to a Friend," as well as "White Crosses, " a yarn about illegal immigration. Of course his two romance ballads "I Could Not Ask for More, and "I'll Be," made the set list of course, but were far from the standouts. That distinction belonged to the sax-fueled crowd favorite "Darwin's Children,"; the criminally underrated "Shooting Stars,"; and current single "Walk With You," a timeless ballad about fatherhood. Having seen McCain more than two dozen times in his 15-year career, he has honestly never sounded better.
A day later at High Line Ballroom, Harper Blynn opened up for Greg Laswell. Rarely does an opening band ever steal the spotlight, but sure enough HB did it. Though they dabbled mostly in material from their new EP, the set was punchy, polished and nary a flaw. Though vocally, J. Blynn outshines Pete Harper, the duo possess the kind of connection and charisma eerily reminiscent of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
Though their cover of Beyonce's "Halo," was the undeniable crowd favorite, equal weight should be given to new song "Bend And Break," and the utterly infectious "Models/Dancers." The quartet returned to the stage 15 minutes later as Greg Laswell's backing band but Laswell's clumsy between-song banter and his mumbling vocals gave the headlining set an awkward and uncomfortable feeling. Even though few wanted to say it, it was very clear that the evening had peaked with Blynn.