Before describing the evening, it’s important to understand Paradise Fears and their incredibly dedicated fans. Beginning back in high school in Vermillion, South Dakota, lead singer and writer Sam Miller and his friends Cole Andre, Jordan Merrigan, Marcus Sand, Michael Walker, and Lucas Zimmerman released two EPs before taking a gap year to work in order to fund their first full length LP. This album, 2011’s Yours Truly, sold 24,000 records, peaking at number 9 on Billboard’s “Uncharted” chart. After gaining traction opening for All Time Low and The Cab in 2011, they began releasing covers on YouTube, launching them to further acclaim with videos amassing millions of views. When asked what makes fans of Paradise Fears love them so much (enough to wait outside on a frigid New York evening for hours, which I’ll get to), so many said “relatability”. The lyrics and moods captured in the sounds of Paradise Fears accurately portray the, well, fears really, that we all face at one time or another. The music is incredibly personal, a fact which Sam alluded to myriad times throughout the evening.
Dawes has found a comfortable home in New York City’s Central Park, returning to SummerStage for the third time this past Monday. The energy of the evening seemed to evolve in sync with the performances, as singer-songwriter Andy Shauf began with relaxed acoustic folk tunes which played well with a crowd just beginning to recover from a long day of heat exhaustion. As the night progressed the temperature slowly dropped, creating a more welcoming environment for the joyous dancing that accompanies any First Aid Kit performance.
First Aid Kit’s Johanna and Klara led the crowd through their beautifully woven harmonies and heartwarming ballads while surprising and exciting everyone with covers of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. In a fun bit of 6 degrees of separation, Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes) joined First Aid Kit’s Johanna and Klara on their song, “King of the World”, which had been recorded with Dawes’ previous tour and SummerStage mate, Connor Oberst.
With summer upon us, many are looking for great summer jams and upbeat tones. For those who like breezy pop with a hints of blues, folk, and classic rockabilly, I’d strongly suggest checking out Toy Soldiers and Quiet Life. After hearing Toy Soldiers at CMJ last October, I’ve gotten to know Ron Gallo a bit better, preparing me for the sort of on-stage antics which make a Toy Soldiers show about more than the music. Catching these bands on a Tuesday at Mercury Lounge, the crowd was amicable and so were the bands, bringing fun to the whole room.
The Black Keys’ Turn Blue sounds like a collaboration between Pink Floyd, Broken Bells, Warren Haynes and Gary Clark Jr. The record is smooth yet punchy, with soul and disco dueling through its 11 songs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like The Black Keys we’ve come to love. It’s been four years since their Big Come Up via Brothers and it seems like Bryan Burton, aka Danger Mouse (of Broken Bells) has grown to become the third Black Key. Much has changed in the two years since El Camino, ; not only does the band sound different, but lead Dan Auerbach has gone through a difficult divorce, leading the album to take a more somber tone.