I’ve know of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. for some time now and for whatever reason, not taken the ample time to sit down and listen to a full album from these guys. I know of their indie-pop formula and the slight draw they’ve been having lately, but I didn’t know what kind of crowd they were going to pull in at the Rickshaw Stop that night, nor did I know how many would be for them and not for the magnificent EMA. Either way I had a good feeling about the show for some odd reason.
Opening was Erika M. Anderson’s EMA (…I see what you did there) and her supporting band. Erika performs with Karen O like grace (if you want to call it that) and a healthy dose of rockability to keep the crowd interested and engaged. Playing a large portion of her recent debut Past Life Martyred Saints, Erika and the band was able to keep the flow of the epically emotional and fuzzed up record despite it’s eclectic mix of genres.
During some songs, she was able to go from sexy and fluent to balls-out rocking out within seconds. And the crowd ate it up. Fuck, I ate it up too! Watching a band like this that is clearly able to lose themselves in their own music and have fun at the same time is treasure for live music fans. Particularly with the spoken word-like song California, it seemed like everyone in the room was glued to what was happening on stage. Like it was some sort of quarter-life confession and deconstruction of a woman who is only able to express herself on stage.
I kind of regret not staying for longer when I saw her in Austin, TX this year as this was a memorable performance from a lady who truly knows how to put on a live show. You may have seen her old band Gowns and their revealing live shows, but this is Erika on a whole ‘nother level. See them when you can.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage wearing full-on NASCAR overalls, which they peeled off to reveal full suits. After shaking hands and nodding their heads in approval of one another, Daniel Zott and Josh Epstein (who looks like Judah Friedlander) the band kicked off their style of Beach Boys-like pop with modern electro-pop charm. On stage there were giant JRs made out of plywood and filled with light bulbs that would light up during select songs as well as more light bulbs scattered along the stage for effect.
It became clear that about 3/4 of the audience was there to see these guys as I made my way to the balcony of the Rickshaw Stop. While the place was still packed, you could clearly tell that people were leaving because EMA had just wrapped up. Which is too bad because the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. boys pretty much killed it that night. Playing not only favorites from Horse Power EP and their latest well received debut album It’s a Corporate World, the band played covers of Steve Winwood (“Higher Love”), Madonna (“Like a Virgin”), and Beach Boys (“God Only Knows”).
Around the tail end of their set, the band brought up about twelve people from the audience to wear skeleton and panda masks and dance to…well, Skeletons. At this point, the crowd was a full blown dance party and it was impossible to enjoy yourself even if you weren’t in the thick of the crowd. At the encore, the band wrapped up with a energetic number as their giant JRs flashed the remaining crowd and bubbles started to fly and fall onto the audience.
It was all-in-all, a good show that really helped me further understand what Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. was all about. Not just some joke band with a funny name, but a serious/not-so serious live act that uses their well thought out harmonies and “bubbly” pop to lure in audiences that go to show to let loose.