X Ambassadors – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2014
The Bowery Ballroom hummed with the sense of giddy relief that characterizes Friday nights in New York City as a sold-out crowd indulged in a triple bill of Gospels, Parade of Lights and X Ambassadors. Gospels led off the night with a supremely tight set. While these dream-pop newcomers have only released one song—a tender, tropical track called “Animal Feelings”—their live set featured a steady flow of solid tunes from their debut EP, due out later this year. Carefully wound synths and sweetly sung lyrics stood out as their trademarks. Next, Parade of Lights delivered the type of pop music that demands sing-alongs. The tenacious drumbeats, anthemic lyrics and exuberant synths all create a potion for playfulness. The L.A.-based foursome are on tour with X Ambassadors, and their music provides a cheery balance for the dark, melodic headliners.
The brotherhood that binds X Ambassadors—both genetic and friendship-wise—is extremely palpable. Brothers Adam (vocals, saxophone) and Casey (keys) Harris and longtime friends Noah Feldshuh (guitar) and Adam Levin (drums) have an intense camaraderie that gives the band a supreme edge and symmetry of sound that brings a crowd closer and closer to the stage with each song. The four-piece finessed a set of the best of their anthemic R&B-infused songs, including “Down with Me,” “Love Songs Drugs Songs” and “Brother.” X Ambassadors are destined to headline much bigger venues in the near future, but The Bowery Ballroom gave them the opportunity to share their strident music intimately. —Schuyler Rooth