by Jason Harper
One Republic, with the Daylights and Eric Hutchinson
Saturday, January, 19
The Madrid Theatre
By CALEB GOELLNER
You know you're in for a complete spectacle when you get to a concert and the roadies are dressed better than you are, the drummers play wearing designer wrist watches and the balcony is packed with trophy-wife tourists uttering condescending phrases like, "I can't believe all those people down there want to stand on the floor.”
The Daylights, a mellow three- piece from LA started the show. "We’re going to play some songs for you if that’s cool,” said the band, taking in some cheering while donning their instruments. Music began and I was impressed with the layered sound -- even if the rest of the act oozed of rehearsed false modesty, right down to the stage moves and banter.
Such behavior wouldn’t have bothered me if I didn’t think they were talented enough to let the music speak for itself. Maybe the band needs a certain quota of screaming-girl photos to fax to their record label after every show?
After some posh loaders tore down the Daylights’ equipment, two radio personalities introduced the second performer of the evening, Eric Hutchinson. Hutchinson swaggered in front of the microphone like one of those guys who tries to impress chicks by playing Jack Johnson covers at parties. I took a deep breath and tried to cleanse my preconceptions, but every corny quip and acoustic pop jam of his just pushed me further from the stage.
To be fair, Hutchinson’s performance was deft and friendly enough. His tunes had enough soul to say, end an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The guy switched between guitar, keys and wireless microphone like a pro and never missed a note. I just couldn’t help but feel like the whole set was designed to get intoxicated college girls with low expectations into bed.
Relief came with One Republic. I’ll admit, prior to the show, all I knew about these guys was that they dressed well and had a single remixed by Timbaland. In this instance, my lack of research yielded plenty of pleasant surprises. I witnessed capable musicians who looked like they were enjoying themselves. No script, no insecurities, just a big sound and a stimulating show. They even had a glow-in-the-dark logo backdrop.
Unfortunately even One Republic didn’t escape the night completely untarnished. After an onstage shout-out to all the birthday girls, half-a-dozen or so teary-eyed drunkards rushed the stage only to be stopped by sighing security staff. This was a truly cheesy moment in the show and a real disappointment. Things were going so well. At least the sad display fed into their hit "Apologize"
The band ended the night with a substantial encore, and though some of the evening’s events triggered my inner cynic, the power of pop mellowed me out enough to feel the positive effects of mainstream music.