The Power of Music
Between living in the Heights and attending Yeshiva University - with its busy days and stacked schedules - we students can almost forget that we live in New York City. This place feels like “The City That Never Sleeps,” not because of the city’s diverse nightlife but because of endless papers and tests. But if you venture out of the Heights, you’ll discover that every night, in this great city, you have the opportunity to see a Broadway show, go to a concert, or experience one of the other exciting events occurring in the city. Earlier this month, I was reminded of the amazing opportunities that are available to me in the city. Various radio stations hold holiday concerts featuring popular and up-and-coming acts, and I had the opportunity to attend and photograph one of these concerts.
On December 2nd, Fresh 102.7, a New York radio station covering “Fresh Music...Better Variety,” held their annual holiday concert called “The Fresh Holiday Jam,” at the Beacon Theatre. The show featured a wide variety of acts: Fall Out Boy and Sara Bareilles, who we grew up with, Elle King and George Ezra, stars of today’s music scene, and the up-and-coming LOLO.
The show kicked off with an acoustic performance by LOLO who is best known for her vocals on the Panic! At The Disco’s track, “Miss Jackson.” Accompanied by her lead guitarist, she performed a soulful set featuring songs off from her 2015 EP Comeback Queen.
Next to take the stage was George Ezra, the British folk singer with a bluesy vibe, best known for his hit single “Budapest.” George kicked off his set with an acoustic guitar in hand, and instantly had the crowd mesmerized by his intricate vocal tones in “Blame it on Me.” Later during his performance he performed his most recent single, “Barcelona.” He prefaced the song with a short story, telling the crowd about a trip around Europe a few years back that influenced his music and led to the feelings and messages behind many of his songs. The entire experience around George’s performance of “Budapest” was one of the most interesting parts of the show for me. The intriguing story involved a bottle of rum bought off a stranger in a Swedish park, the Eurovision Song Contest, and a next-morning decision to stay in Sweden instead of taking his early morning train to Budapest. Beside this being his fans’ favorite song, he also gave a personal perspective by sharing the story behind the song.
After Ezra’s performance, Elle King, a country alt rocker, took the stage, accompanied by her band, showcasing her gritty powerful voice and playing a six-string banjo. King is best known for her hit song “Ex’s & Oh’s” which is now up for two Grammys (Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song). Her no-nonsense country attitude was endearing, and, between her lively personality and great music, the crowd was captivated. Elle’s performance included songs off of her most recent album Love Stuff and even included a cover of the Beatles “Oh! Darling.” Her introduction to the performance of, “Ex’s and Oh’s” exemplified her personality: “If you know the words to this song, sing along; if you don’t, make ’em up.” She included “Happy Hanukah” in her holiday greetings at the end of her set; these two words, and the inclusiveness they portrayed, drew me closer to the concert as I felt my connection to the musicians grow stronger.
The fourth act of the night was Sara Bareilles, whose piano has been entertaining audiences since 2007 with her hit song, “Love Song.” She began with her hit song, and from the first note the crowd was singing along. Sara then performed the Carole King classic, “You’ve Got a Friend,” and dedicated it in memory of the victims of that day’s attack in San Bernardino. She also performed “She Used to Be Mine,” a song from Waitress, a Broadway musical that she wrote the music for. Sara ended her performance with one of her recent hits, “Brave,” a song covered by the Maccabeats.
Fall Out Boy kicked off their thirteen song set with, “Sugar I’m Going Down,” and as soon as the crowd heard the opening drums and guitar of the song followed by “Am I more than you bargained for,” it went nuts. The band performed many of their current and former hits, from songs like “Centuries” and “Irresistible,” to “Dance, Dance” and “Thanks for the Memories.” The feeling in the crowd was electric as everyone sang along with the band at the top of their lungs. Fall Out Boy’s lead singer Patrick Stump introduced the band’s cover of the Charlie Brown classic, “Christmas Time is Here,” which the band performed that night for the first time ever as a test run for the following night’s performance at the lighting of the Washington D.C. Christmas tree.
Although we are very busy with our duties at Yeshiva University and often may feel stuck in the Heights, it’s amazing how live music can help us forget these stresses, and let us separate ourselves for a few hours. A concert can be a time to relax and reflect - it’s just you and the music. It is important to remember the power of music as a way to breathe and step back from the stresses of everyday life and to live in the moment, especially around finals time.
All photos featured in this piece were taken by Shimon Lindenblatt.