Words by Tracey Moyle
The buzz around the ‘Hanger’ at The Triffid in Brisbane’s inner city was highly charged Saturday night as eager fans poured through the doors keen to see New York alternative rockers X Ambassadors take the stage, touring our shores for the first time. The chatty party-like atmosphere of the room was infectious with laughter and excited conversation, an expression of the enthusiasm the gathering music lovers felt.
The room was filling up very early on and it all became evident why when supporting act, much loved Sydney boys Boo Seeka, took to the stage. Their boundless energy exploded from the first note giving adoring fans a brilliant start for the night ahead. This elecro-soul duo opened the night with Oh My and had energy popping with a vibrant intensity getting everything moving at an explosive level and the crowd responded with their own burst of the infectious vitality.
Taking us into a smooth groove Rush had a dreamy pace, yet singer Ben Gumbleton’s energy only dropped slightly. His enthusiasm bursting through had everyone dancing, bringing the party atmosphere alive. Michael May, on electronic/keys/drums, seemed completely taken away by the moment and following up with new track, Humans, set a hypnotic chill across the crowd. People were swaying, eyes closed, completely taking in the music surrounding them.
A fan yells ‘Deception Bay!’ from the crowd and the interaction between the band and the fan is casual, almost familiar as they agree and take us into the popular track. They continued the set with party mode switched on and positive vibes rippling out through the crowd, connecting with the fans giving us, Calling Out, Moonlight Run and finishing the set with their popular hit Does This Last.
The love for this band was evident around the room, old fans and new ones walking around smiling at each other. It could have been a headlining night for them from the reaction of the crowd. A great vibe started the night ready to carry us through to the main act.
The stage was reset and the layout stood out immediately, with drums set up front left of stage, keyboard at the right and both guitarists set up at the back. Already I felt there was something wonderfully different about an X Ambassadors show. Lead vocalist Sam Harris walked on stage leading his 90% blind brother Casey Harris to the keyboard set up. The band, were all smiles as they walked on and acknowledged the fans.
The energy we saw with the support was carried through and amplified when the they opened with hit, Hey Child. Harris’ soulful vocals pierced the room. The crowd, already buzzing, felt the charge and jumped and sang along with all the enthusiasm that had been building, exploding through. Casey Harris’ solo ended the song full of energy, pounding the keys leaving you overwhelmed by his brilliance and it was just the first song of the set.
A heavy tribal beat took us into Jungle from their 2015 album ‘VHS’. Casey was at one with the keys and in his own brilliant world, then, for the songs last breaths, Sam Harris brings out a sax, taking the song to a new level and the crowd went crazy for it. Touring their latest Album ‘Orion’ they took us into it’s fourth track, Boom, with it’s funky guitar, and jazzy feels, the crowd dancing, feeling the groove. Sam Harris owned the stage, born to perform.
He thanks the fans for their support and slides into new song, Quicksand. Moving into a smoother bluesy tone, Adam Levin’s drumming kept the pace setting an infectiously dance-able groove across the room. Scanning the crowd, the fans are as diverse as the music you get from X Ambassadors with twenty some-things, and music lovers well over that age, all swaying, eye’s closed taking in the gift of Sam Harris’ magical vocal.
Dripping in soulful tones, Don’t Stay penetrated the souls of the fans, revealing the vocal range of their lead, hitting notes that brought Prince into my mind with the band keeping a smooth chilled pace and backing vocals from the female bassist (who’s name I unfortunately missed) giving a gospel feel to the song at times. Again looking around the crowd, eyes are closed, the music completely sweeping them away. The connection the band has with the crowd is something truly magical. It’s like a sense of ‘oneness’ with the music.
Beautiful crisp guitar took us into Ahead Of Myself, another inspiring song provoking a mass sing along from the loved up crowd. Sam Harris is handed an acoustic for Confidence, a song off the new album feat K. Flay. This multi-talented artist, again, supported with additional vocals from amazing female bassist.
Harmonious vocals and gentle keys open up into Rule. Harris has perfect tone and I may have mentioned, his range is amazing. He brings out the Sax for a liquid smooth ending.
Sam’s beautiful voice and Casey’s power to connect with the keyboard, takes us into their latest release Everything Sounds Like A Love Song. They snap the room out of the trance with their beautiful track Hold You Down again from ‘Orion’. A fan next to us, introduced herself as Octavia, and said she came for Boo Seeka but was blown away by the New Yorkers up on stage. I love that other people go to shows to see supports not just touring acts. Support for our local bands makes my heart swell.
The room charges with the pace picking up and the key’s hitting an electronic frenzied opening into Optimistic. The room goes into dance mode. The energy takes you on a natural high. At the end of the song a fan yells out “We fucking love you!” Sam responds; “I love you too.” He goes on sweet-talking the crowd; “There are some sexy people in Brisbane. Can I get the lights on this crowd”.
And the Brisbane music fans were loving it. Great rapport happened with a smooth and perfect slide into Gorgeous, again dripping in sexy, smooth soulful vocals. The funky beat of the music getting the fans grooving. All three guitarists join for a massive jam at end finishing off on another high. The band took a break with only the Harris brothers left on the stage. They gave us Unsteady, sweeping the audience away with all the emotion the song provokes and the crowd have a massive pub choir moment.
As I mentioned before the diversity of their fans is a beautiful thing. Hundreds of people, all very different from one another, joined by the love of the music surrounding them. Harris declared that an “X Ambassadors concert is a safe place for people to be who they truly are.” The crowd cheered, the woman next to me hugged me. The positive energy of the night was infectious. If only we could infect the whole world with that feeling of togetherness. We were treated to their most popular song to date Renegades and the crowd joined in. The upbeat feels had hands up clapping, people dancing and soaking up the atmosphere once again.
The Triffid was one big loved up dance party. Harris gets behind drums at the end of the song with additional sticks to add to the beat, finishing off with a climax.
Off for a breather, the crowd are cheering, talking and laughing, knowing there is one more song to go. Sam leads the band back on stage, again guiding Casey to the keys for the encore. And they end as they started, with smiles and energy. X Ambassadors finish with another song from their latest release and Wasteland has Harris’ voice reverberating through our musical souls.
The positive energy of the night, the reaction of the crowd and the connection between the bands and the fans made this show one of my favourites in a very long time. And to be honest, it’s not even what I ‘typically’ listen to. But tonight proved to me that music is truly a universal language. That it can heal, and that it absolutely brings people together in a positive way.
That was the last show of the X Ambassadors Aus + NZ ‘Orion’ Tour, but you can keep up with all their latest news on their socials and online:
With thanks to Secret Service PR