>> As the lights dimmed at radio.com's first ever Not So Silent Night at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY on December 6th, 2018, the packed audience was surely not silent in anticipation of the killer lineup in store for them. The part arena concert, part mini music festival hosted by New York’s Alt 92.3 alternative radio station promised almost a solid five hours of live music to ring in the holiday season. Much like the radio station which caters to the NYC area’s varied but cohesive alternative tastes, this event felt like a curated playlist for music fans of the genre with possibly the most stacked lineup of any single concert this year. Between 7pm and 12am, AJR, CHVRCHES, Mike Shinoda, Bastille, Foster The People, Death Cab For Cutie, Florence + The Machine, and Muse would possess the stage, and the crowd couldn’t get enough.
The brothers of AJR (Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met) opened the night with their signature energy and hit song “Weak,” bounding across the stage and warming the crowd up for the night to come. Only having time in their slot for three songs, they expertly utilized each second. After their second song, AJR spoke to the crowd about their living room recording studio and the story of how an AJR song comes to life. Beginning with a few notes, each member offered a contribution to the melody until a bare-bones structure transformed into their instantly-recognizable song, “Burn The House Down.” The crowd was still on their feet through the quick transition to the next artist, CHVRCHES, who kept the energy high with their new song “Get Out.” Running back and forth across the stage, singer Lauren Mayberry’s seemingly effortless vocals and the band’s exuberant synth and dance beats kept the audience captivated and in motion through their five-song set.
Next on the stage was Mike Shinoda, co-founder and key member of Linkin Park. Opening with “Remember The Name,” from his project Fort Minor, Shinoda performed songs from his recent solo career as well as Linkin Park classics. On an emotional rendition of “In The End,” he asked the crowd to sing Chester Bennington’s parts of the song. Towards the end of his set, Shinoda told the audience that the pride Brooklyn has towards Biggie Smalls has taught him a lot in processing Chester’s passing. Bastille, the next band to perform, packed the stage with colorful instruments and set pieces to be used in their 30-minute slot. Opening with “Good Grief,” singer Dan Smith led the band through a selection of hits, past and present, including “World Gone Mad,” and “Happier,” Bastille’s new song with producer and DJ, Marshmello. Their final song was “Pompeii,” which featured a slow piano intro and had everyone in the audience singing along by the end. As the stage rotated once again, Foster The People entered the Barclays Center arena with black leather jackets and mirrored guitars to complement their signature indie pop sound. Performing tracks from their debut album, ‘Torches’, plus some from their most recent release, ‘Sacred Hearts Club’ and their new single, “Worst Nites,” Mark Foster and his band commanded the stage with a sound that echoed around the room.
Not only was radio.com's Not So Silent Night’s lineup incredible, but the tight production of the show itself was an impressive feat as well. Where a typical concert might include up to half an hour wait between artists, the set changeover time on the Barclays Center stage came in consistently under five minutes each - and that includes each subsequent artist’s introduction by a different Alt 92.3 radio host. This lightning-fast set change was thanks to a rotating stage platform, which allowed the crew to prep the next artist’s gear as the current act was performing. This is what made the almost five hours of nonstop music nearly seamless on Dec. 6th, continuing on with Death Cab For Cutie at 9:20 PM. Opening with a long, evolving instrumental intro to “I Will Possess Your Heart,” Ben Gibbard and the band treated the audience to emotional songs from both their new album, ‘Thank You For Today,’ and past works before ending on “The Sound Of Settling,” from their classic record ‘Transatlanticism.’
The stage then rotated once more to reveal the setup, complete with a harp, for one of the night’s co-headliners: Florence + The Machine. This was the act that many fans in the front rows (some of whom began queueing at 4 AM) had been waiting for, and Florence Welch did not disappoint. Barefoot and in a flowing green dress she bounded across the stage as her vocals reached the rafters, and blooming images of flowers filled the screens behind her. During “Dog Days Are Over,” she asked the audience to “put away your phones, we’re going to have an experience!” She then implored everyone to embrace and join in a dance that carried all around the packed Barclays Center arena. Climbing down off the stage for her penultimate song, she sang “What Kind Of Man” while holding the hands of dozens of fans at the barricade, before closing her show with the uplifting “Shake It Out.”
Muse finally closed out the night with an hour-long performance, fresh off the release of their new album ‘Simulation Theory.’ Although the stage was relatively sparse equipment-wise, the band filled the room with their massive sound and larger than life stage presence. The audience saw a range of futuristically illuminated jackets, guitars, and headgear, as well as the first North American performance of the band’s new song “Break It To Me,” as lead singer Matt Bellamy strutted across the stage with incredible confidence. Ending the show at exactly midnight with “Knights of Cydonia,” the crowd echoed every lyric back as Muse closed out the first Not So Silent Night. In a sort of middle ground between a concert and a festival, radio.com and Alt 92.3’s Not So Silent Night was the best of both worlds. Like a festival, the opportunity to see many artists perform back to back on a single stage was adapted to an arena concert setting where there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. The single caveat was the limited performance times of the artists, especially those earlier in the night, but that’s the tradeoff of inviting such an ambitious lineup to a single event. All in all, radio.com's inaugural Not So Silent Night brought exactly what the alternative music listeners wanted: a lineup of heavy hitters in the alt music scene, all at the same show where each act seemed like they could be a headliner. <<