Ugly sweater contests, mistletoe and fruitcake all pale by comparison to the gift of live music that Alt 92.3's bestowed upon fans at the Barclay's Center in the form of Radio.com's Not So Silent Night. Rocking the house included Muse, Florence and the Machine, Mike Shinoda, (of Linkin Park), Death Cab for Cutie, AJR, Bastile, CHVRCHES and Foster the People. As the radio station launched earlier this year, giving New York their own alternative rock station, this was the first of it's kind holiday concert for the station and with it the bar has been raised exceptionally high.
With eight acts jam packed into a window of five hours that allotted, in most cases, 3-5 minutes to break down one act's stage and bring the next act out, one could only wonder how this feat could be accomplished. Easy. Right after a group exited the stage and their applause died down, the stage spun, whisking away one set up to reveal the fully arranged set for the next act, which was assembled behind stage curtain and video monitors, as if spinning on a turntable. With station jocks providing a bit of banter and some video footage of fun with the musicians bookending the sets, the lineup flowed seamlessly and without any issues. Kudos for technical prowess as well as a beautifully curated lineup.
The festival-in-one-night kicked off with New York City's own AJR. With only 20 minutes on stage, the band used their time wisely, playing the fan favorite songs "Weak," "Sober Up," and "Burn the House Down" while giving the audience a quick lesson in their song creating process. They spun, danced and played under a bright logo display behind them.
Lauren Mayberry and CHVRCHES stole the stage next. Even with 20 minutes, the band exuded the energy that they were playing for an amphitheater for two hours. Both ethereally floating and stomping in black boots with a filmy skirt, Mayberry's presence was felt to the back rafters. A rockin' version of "Get Out" had the crowd singing along and their quick five song set ended with their early hit "The Mother We Share."
Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park took his turn next. His high energy time on stage was part hip hop, part memorial to Chester Bennington, who passed away in 2017. The crowd went crazy for "Make it Up As I Go," Shinoda's hit with Kristen Flaherty and with a smirk, he teased that K.Flay wasn't in the house. One of the most emotional moments of the evening was the song "In the End" in which Shinoda asked the crowd to fill in and sing Bennington's vocals. During the last song of his set "Running From My Shadow" Shinoda threw himself over the barricade and interacted with the crowd, much to their delight.
Bastille brought even more energy to the stage next. Front man Dan Smith levitated, jumped and vaulted over every inch of the stage and speaker kit, even taking his show on the road and running into the far end of the venue through the crowd during the song "Flaws." Other high points include "World Gone Mad," "Happier," "Quarter Past Midnight" and "Pompei." When these guys tour your city next, grab tickets. Fast.
Foster the People rotated on next. The indie pop darlings from Los Angeles behind singer Mark Foster never disappoint and their set at NSSN was no exception. Kicking it into high gear with "Don't Stop," the band followed up with "Lotus Eater" and "Houdini." Fans of their older hits were thrilled with they brought out their "Pumped Up Kicks" and in no time, their six songs were over but the applause was thunderous.
Death Cab for Cutie opted to open their set with the long, spiraling version of "I Will Possess Your Heart," the long instrumental opening eating into their short set but thrilling the audience. Singer Ben Gibbard had the crowd going wild for "The Ghosts of Beverly Drive." Their carefully cultivated playlist represented a smattering of hits from their whole discography, including fan favorites "Northern Lights," "Crooked Teeth" and "Cath." Gibbard dedicated the last song in their set "The Sound of Settling" to Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks who died early that day.
Florence and The Machine brought the energy back up with a spirited version of Ship to Wreck. Florence Welch, the powerhouse behind the band, raced barefoot from one end of the stage to the next, a flash of green dress and long legs. The crowd was in a frenzied state, singing along with every word and standing rapt when Welch departed the stage and sang to the fans, leaning on the barricade. At one point, she implored the audience members to put their phones away and experience the night in person, not through a screen, encouraging people to police each other. For the most part, it worked and people responded by pocketing their phones for a bit and immersing themselves in live performances of "What Kind of Man" and "Shake it Out." The audience rocked out for the entire set, clocking it at nearly an hour, one of the longer ones of the evening.
The final act of the evening, Muse grabbed the last slot and with it, an hour long set. Enrobed with some LED lights on his jacket and glasses, singer Matt Bellamy took festive up to a higher level. "Algorithm" started the night off. The crowd loved "Drill Sergeant," "Psycho," "Uprising," "Madness" and "Supermassive Black Hole." After the final notes of "Knights of Cydonia," the final song, Bellamy promised the crowd," See you in MSG next year!" A massively fun night culminated in the promise of more amazing live music to hit the stages of NYC next year.
Photographs by Christine Connallon
Death Cab For Cutie
Florence and the Machine
Foster The People