>>Though 2019 is behind us and the holidays have passed, there was still one more festive reason to gather together and celebrate. This past Friday, January 24, 94.1 The Zone, Rochester’s New Rock Alternative helped to ring in the new year with the continuation of their annual Rover’s Holiday Hangover. The concert was held at none other than the Dome Arena in Henrietta, which has sported some impressive performances and big name artists over the years. Friday’s concert was no exception as the year 2020 was brought in right with the help of its stacked lineup. Red show lights and LED beam panels adorned the stage and aligned the dome walls. A handful of vendors were tabling, one of which was Stoneyard Brewing Company, who brewed a specialty beer solely for that night. As people gathered in, grabbed one of the limited Rover’s Holiday Hangover Ales, and made their way up towards the stage, the night was already off to a promising start.
Kicking off the night was DREAMERS, the LA based pop-rock trio that originated in Brooklyn. Forming in 2014, the group has been at it nonstop ever since. Be it hole-in-the-wall bars, renowned arenas, or full fledged festivals, the band has continued to fine tune their craft and graph out their sound. Playing an audio track recording, backed by some trippy space tunes before entering, once the three hit the stage, the party had commenced. Lead vocalist and guitarist Nick Wold’s aqua blue hair pierced through the red and green light scheme as they started with one of their hit songs "Screws." Though the floor wasn’t filled, the band still provided energy and crowd engagement. Interacting with members along the barricade, Wold encouraged the audience to move around and warm up their bodies as they played through some of their newer releases and classics. Jamming out to DIZZY, off of their most recent album LAUNCH FLY LAND which dropped in April of 2019, the popping synth, driving beats, and rad guitar flares created a full bodied sound that quickly filled the dome. This was also accomplished through the help of bassist and keyboardist Nelson alongside drummer Jacob Wick as they provided backing vocals that created their hooking harmonies.
As Wold shared a few moments with the crowd, he proclaimed that “we are dreamers and so are you.” The audience sang the lyrics back to their following songs, and they brought out "Desensitize" and "Die Happy," which holds a special meaning for the band. Lastly, they ended their set with "Sweet Disaster," a crowd favorite. Thanking the crowd and heading off stage, their dream catcher remained hanging from Nick’s mic stand, sending out good vibes for the rest of the night.
Up next was the highly anticipated artist Danny Maisonneuve, who goes by the name Sub Urban. Residing in New Jersey, Danny is only nineteen years old. However, don’t let his age fool you, his stage performance and charisma matched that of a seasoned vet. Also diversifying in age was the crowd, as many young kids ran up to the barricades trying to catch a glimpse of the artist behind the curtains before his set. There were some technical difficulties beforehand, but this didn’t deter the audience as the floor started to fill in and its younger members started to partake in dance battles to pass the time. Once everything was working and he walked on stage, the room erupted and was completely enthralled from start to finish. Known for his dark undertones and eerie collection of sounds, his songs came alive in the most haunting of ways. Supported by his guitarist/keyboardist and drummer the three put on a wonderfully chilling performance.
Possessing bewitching qualities, Danny commanded the stage with his body and gloom suited vocals as he seemed to levitate across it with his freeform dance. Bending and twisting he hung onto every lyric as he became engulfed by the moment, letting its surging weight take over. In between songs he wielded a calm demeanor and shared funny stories regarding their arrival into Rochester and their Uber driver. Connecting with the audience, people were under Maisonneuve’s spell and they were ready for more. Playing songs such as "Sick Of You," "Broken," and his latest release "Isolate," he shared that he will be releasing more content this March. Even when he wasn’t singing, he was speaking in volume. Ending with his hit "Cradles," the crowd leaned forward one last time before he quietly said “thank you,” sedately left the stage and the trance was broken.
Third were the hometown boys Joywave. With a crescendo of a roar as they entered, the crowd provided a proper ROC welcome for lead singer Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, keyboardist Benjamin Bailey, and drummer Paul Brenner. Repping striking outfits of all white, with the exception of Dan’s holiday red pants, our indie rock boys were ready to do what they do best. Having recently gotten off tour with the band Bastille, it has been a decent amount of time since they last performed at home. Entering the stage in pure, Joywave fashion, they started out with a slower tune to slowly heat things up. However, it didn’t last long as they immediately went straight into the fan favorite, "Somebody New." Remaining assertive of the stage and keeping to his theatrical character, Dan took charge of the stage with his composer like characteristics.
Working the stage from every angle, arms swaying, hands raised, even down to the slightest twitch of his fingers and flick of his wrist, his pulsating movements kept the momentum going. All he had to do was simply stand at the front of the stage and people would scream. Pounding his chest, it was evident that they were excited to be playing back at home.
Throwing out their notorious tunes such as "Blastoffff," "Blank Slate," "Tongues," and more, each tune received a great response. The lights increased in intensity as the spirit in the room radiated up towards the top of the dome. Playing one of their new tunes "Half Your Age," you could tell which individuals were fully committed fans as they claimed spots on the floor as their own personal mini stages. The dancing and jumping was sustained throughout the entirety of their set and electricity hit when Dan announced the release of their brand new album titled Possession out in March on Friday. The excitement grew as they followed that up with the mention of their new headline tour and their next home concert on May 22nd at Anthology. Tickets go on sale Monday January 27th at 10 am, and everyone there were the very first to know. Closing their set with their song Obsession, it was great having the boys back in town and playing at The Dome Arena, which holds a special place in their hearts.
Last to take the stage was the always energetic and enthusiastic AJR. This three piece group made up of brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met have an addictive and eccentric sound that is the fusion of various elements and genres such as pop, electronic, dubstep, doo-wop and more. They wasted no time as they immediately hit the ground running with Next Up Forever, providing a theatrical and gripping entrance. The stage was cleared in the center and the instruments strategically placed around the perimeter so the group, but more specifically lead vocalist Jack, had free range to dance around and do his thing. The three brothers were accompanied by trumpet player JJ Kirkpatrick and drummer Chris Berry, adding in even more layers and dimension to their flavorful sound. With the lights blazing and the speakers pumped, they played "Thirty-Three." JJ got in on the action, inserting streaks of musical color with his crisp and funky brass solos. Everyone had their hands in the air, and from that moment on, it was a lively scene with an ecstatic crowd for the rest of the night. Genre bending and wedding various instruments and sounds, the stage was their canvas in which they painted upon a powerful performance and vibrant palette of pop. With each brother possessing their own style and personality, it was refreshing to see them individually engage with the crowd in their own unique ways.
Though continuously running around, Jack remained acute and observant as he took the time to acknowledge individual members of the crowd, creating humorous and memorable moments.
Ryan was right there with him as he grooved behind his keys and chatted with the crowd between songs. Continuing to keep the party going, they played more of their beloved jams such as Sober Up, which featured Ryan on the ukulele, "Don’t Throw Out My Legos," "Netflix Trip," a cover of Smash Mouth’s "All Star," "100 Bad Days," "Dear Winter," and more. There were bits where Jack even hopped on the drumset himself, showcasing just how versatile they truly are. One of the highlights of the night was when they did a breakdown of how they composed their song, "Burn The House Down," stating that while creating they enjoy experiment with strange noises.
Another was during their last song "Weak," when they ran off stage and came back with the instruments of a marching band. Going out with a bang, the crowd soaked up every ounce of their energy and off-the-wall performance, adding a little pep in their step as they exited the venue.
Rover’s Holiday Hangover was a resounding success, and we look forward to what 2021 has in store.