X Ambassadors + Now Now @ Corona Theatre – February 13, 2018

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Concerts during Montreal’s very cold winter season are always enjoyable. Personally, I see them as a chance for the fans to prove their dedication to the artist about to perform. In a brisk -11 degree Celsius night, fans of X Ambassadors lined up down the street of Notre Dame Ouest. Insane amount of people waiting for this sold-out show.

Fast forward to almost two hours of waiting with two friends I’ve met up, we’re finally let inside.

We quickly found warmth once people started gathering around the floor in front of the stage, and around 8 PM, the lights shut off. As the crowd cheers, Now Now, a rock indie band based in Minneapolis, USA, is greeted by blue lights as they make their way into position for their performance.

Starting us off with one of their older songs, the lead vocalist, Cacie Dalager, had everyone swaying in the yellow-hued lights to her very cool and beautiful vocals. Once Now Now continued the show with new, unreleased material, I noticed that they have a similar sound to Paramore’s newest album, After Laughter. A mix of upbeat yet mellowed out guitar riffs and female vocals that stand out. Their new album should be interesting, as the lyrics and composed music seem to be going in a very mellow yet realistically happy sounding direction.

Now Now put on a very good show, showing the closeness between each other by dancing together while playing music, or showing their amazing choreography skills by demonstrating to us how to properly dance the Macarena. Cacie Dalager and drummer Bradley Hale were quite interactive with the crowd, reacting to peoples shouted compliments and sharing a couple giggles with their bandmates at certain comments. Once their set was over, Cacie Dalager mentioned that her bandmates and herself would be hanging around the merchandise booth at the end of the night. And I knew I had to ask if she had always been performing the way she performed tonight.

When I asked her my question, she happily answered; “No, I wasn’t. In general, I’m a very introverted person, and it was very hard for me to get out of my shell and be comfortable on stage. I would bow my head, looking at the floor or I’d have my eyes closed as I played guitar and sang, not really doing much else. But since we started performing again in July, I was able to learn to grow comfortable and give a performance worth seeing.”

I assured her that she did an amazing job, and I’m very sure everyone else that was watching would agree.

As much as I loved Now Now’s performance, it clearly was not the main act. That fact was felt once X Ambassadors made their way on stage. The crowd went absolutely insane as Adam Levin sat himself at his drum kit, and lead vocalist Sam Harris led his blind brother to his keyboard.

And they wasted no time. Starting their set off with “Don’t Stay”, Sam Harris blew the audience back with his chilling high notes, accompanied by three amazing backup vocalists, and did not skip a beat when it was his turn to play the saxophone at the end of the song. Keeping the same pumped-up mood, they continued with the song “Jungle”. Seeing Casey Harris dancing away as he plays the keyboard, and Sam making sure to not miss any hands reaching for him helped me realize that X Ambassadors was not here to disappoint.

After playing a few unreleased songs, Casey Harris and Adam Levin leave Sam Harris alone on stage. It’s just him, the audience, and his acoustic guitar. As he strums a few chords, he starts to tell the crowd about the next song he will perform solo for us. He tells the crowd; “This is a song for when you feel shitty” and he proceeds to start playing an extremely mellow and slow song called “Litost”. Sam shared the lyrics with his fans once again and showed off his incredible vocals. Looking around the theatre, I noticed there wasn’t one person standing still. Everyone was swaying in rhythm to the song. I watched as my two friends swayed together while leaning on each other, and knew that this was due to the impact of Sam’s powerful voice.

Once Litost was finished, Adam and Casey take the stage once again. Casey is seen wiping his eyes dry from tears, a touching detail of the song just performed. They continued with their popular song “Unsteady” keeping up with the touchy-feely vibe in the room. Once everyone in the theatre finished cheering them on at the end of the song, Sam grabbed his microphone and made a very positively powerful speech. He encouraged his listeners to never be afraid of who they are and to be brave when speaking up for yourself and others if necessary. Afterwards, the first few seconds of their song “Renegades” started to play, and everyone went wild. The sound of absolutely everyone in the theatre singing along to that one song was gorgeous.

Finishing their set with “Joyful”, the crowd roared for a good minute and a half. There was no way X Ambassadors was getting away without an encore. The band performed their very last song, “Unconsolable” before leaving the stage, ending the night with loud cheers and a ringing in my ears.

My friend Thalia had nothing but positive words to say about the band’s performance; “It was amazing. You could really feel the connection Sam Harris had with their songs, and the passion and genuine love for what they do.” An incredible performance by X Ambassadors and I cannot wait for them to come back to Montreal.

Review – Jamie Siddall

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