Review: Big crowd, bigger energy – AJR delivered a “Bang!” at the NY State Fair
Review: Big crowd, bigger energy at the AJR concert
Technicolor projections, catchy choruses, and dizzying dancing fueled AJR as they delivered their eclectic pop to a field of fans on Sept. 3, at the New York State Fair.
A crescendo of lights and sound followed by a brief voiceover welcomed AJR to Chevy Park. The band of three brothers, Adam, Jack and Ryan Met, ripped into “Bummerland” to the roar of the crowd. Once they were shot out of the cannon, AJR’s momentum rarely stopped.
Frontman Jack Met strutted and spun across the stage in a dizzying display of the saying, “dance like nobody’s watching.” The brothers powered through a set of popular singles like “Sober Up” and “Burn The House Down”; with fan-favorites like “Netflix Trip”; and a lively acoustic cover of Smash Mouth’s “All Star.”
The New York-based trio has cultivated a signature sound. Many of their songs contain layered tracks, cheerful tempos, a subdued pre-chorus and a beat drop leading to a driving chorus. This caused the concert to tread the line of monotony, but it never crossed it. AJR steered away from sounding like a 70-minute run-on song with well-timed banter breaks and stripped-down acoustic numbers. Their charisma, especially of Jack Met, sustained the party. The hummable, familiar melodies and catchy choruses invited audiences in. Even the American Sign Language interpreters vibed all night to the pop party.
Leading into “Bang!,” Ryan Met, with assistance from Jack Met on his mixing console, showed how manipulating the pitch of a knock led to the creation of one of the band’s biggest hits and was a highlight of the evening.
Another stand-out included audience favorite Arnetta Johnson, dubbed the “trumpet queen of New Jersey,” by Adam Met. Whenever she walked downstage to wail on songs like the closing of “Weak,” the audience would erupt in applause.
AJR infused technology not only in their soundscape but also in the flashy digital backdrops. During “Don’t Throw Out My Legos,” a montage of spliced black-and-white static and old TV cartoons gave way to a technicolor montage. “Karma,” which Adam Met described as “a happy panic attack,” captured that essence with simple raindrops transforming to rainbow-hued free falling squares.
The brothers peppered the evening with playful banter. The band showcased fan-made signs, and the siblings ribbed each other for everything from keyboardist Ryan Met’s attempt to grow facial hair, to Jack and Adam Met’s receiving less applause than their brother.
“You gotta play it cooler,” Ryan Met said.
Cooler, though, wasn’t an option with the band’s high-octane set. Much like an athlete trains to run a marathon, AJR has to train to meet their music’s stamina demands. The band resumed regular live performances this summer, so Jack Met’s physical energy began to dip by the end. He threw himself into his maniac dancing sessions less frequently, but never with less gusto. Being back on stage in front of a live audience fueled the brothers.
“Every moment on stage is such a gift,” Jack Met said.