Considering these screwed up times, it was pleasantly surprising how smoothly AJR’s virtual Dandelion Day concert went. UR students were given an intimate and engaging experience that just about met every expectation possible given our current circumstances.
Senior Jamal Holtz, outgoing SA president, served as the stream’s host. His lively performance impressed me, given that he was forced to host the event from (what looked like) his living room. His jokes made me chuckle, and there was rarely an awkward moment in transitions from act to act. His interactions with the artists seemed genuine as well, and both acts seemed to enjoy his presence during the live-stream.
The opener was a UR alum and Bronx’s own DJ Dr. Griffs. His act was a classic DJ set, full of danceable jams, clever transitions, and funky sample work to spice things up. I enjoyed Griffs’ R&B and hip hop selection, and watching him mess with his boards was fun as well, as he seemed to have a great time performing. His set ended at the 30-minute mark, a perfect time to cap off an opener.
Soon after, Holtz introduced AJR. As soon as they showed up on screen, I realized the band of brothers were snug together in the same apartment bedroom. This immediately gave their performance an intimate atmosphere.
Their songs were also more stripped back than on their records,which added to this effect. Vocalist Jack Met played light percussionusing a bottle of vitamin D pills and two kitchen whisks, as well as the ukulele. Adam was on bass, and Ryan on keyboard.
For a band who releases songs through highly produced pop filters, it was surprising how much their songs were improved in this stripped-back setting. The interplay between Jack’s vocals and Ryan’s keyboard showed off their melodic sensibilities, especially during their choruses, which were catchy as hell. For these reasons, every song was a dinger. They played many of their hits, like “Bang,” “Burn the House Down,” and “100 Bad Days.” They even threw in a sweet little cover of Smash Mouth’s classic “All Star.”
Even though the band were probably just staring at a webcam while performing, their enthusiasm, like Holtz’s, was appreciable. Even without the presence of a high-energy crowd, the band played as though there was one. In fact, after they finished their opener “Sober Up,” Jack exclaimed: “I just realized that we are not going to hear any applause.” It didn’t kill their energy one bit.
Before closing, Holtz relayed the band members a handful of student questions about their career, early influences, and performances with some tough crowds. The chemistry between Holtz and AJR was surreal, but pleasant. It was odd and really enjoyable to listen to a fellow Rochester student shooting the breeze with a massive pop band like it was just another Friday.
AJR’s Dandelion Day concert was a success. Even though it was very low-key, that aspect of the production added to its charm. I think the Rochester community needed a little intimacy through these really tough times, and SA, Dr. Griffs, and AJR delivered that in spades. It’s funny how intimate the performance felt considering how spread out we are from each other, but I’m not complaining.