“Whoever says New York City doesn’t have good crowds should just kill themselves right now,” Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff shouted to an adoring sold-out Terminal 5 crowd before adding, smartly, “Well, don’t kill yourself!” The man has a point (not about the, you know, offing of one’s self): New York audiences are notorious for their oft-lukewarm reception at shows. But Antonoff was there to prove that wrong.
Part of Bleachers’ appeal is that there’s a little something for everyone. Antonoff is one-third of the highly successful (and currently on hiatus) pop group fun., giving him a seasoned and bona fide star/stage presence. He’s also behind some of the past couple of years’ biggest Top 40 hits: Sara Bareilles’s “Brave” and Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods,” and he brings this pop-minded sensibility to Bleachers’ catchy tunes. He’s also that dude from Jersey who had a rough time in high school, which is evidenced all over Bleachers’ Eighties-influenced debut, Strange Desire, which lends Antonoff a little loner and hipster cred.
From giggling teenagers to hipsters who were, in fact, slightly lukewarm in response, Bleachers’ Terminal 5 show ran the gamut of fans, all of whom left thoroughly entertained. Antonoff boasts an infectious command (plus a backing band that’s just as charismatic in its own right) that immediately set the tone with “Like a River Runs,” an opener that blasted ‘roided-up synths through the venue. The dance-y “Shadows” was followed by “Wild at Heart,” a modernized Springsteen-invoking tune that saw Antonoff preaching the Jersey gospel at his audience.
Nearly every song from Strange Desire made the setlist, most notably the blown-out production of “You’re Still a Mystery,” complete with saxophone, as well as the slower, seductive “Wake Me” and the teenage anthem “Rollercoaster,” both of which are just begging for retrospective placement in a John Hughes movie.
With a small catalog, a few cover songs helped round out Bleachers’ relatively short set. The high: Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” a song that felt in line with Bleachers’ output and amped up the audience’s energy considerably. The low: Kanye West’s “Only One,” which saw Bleachers huddled together at the front of the stage and featured, questionably, saxophone.
The obvious highlight was Bleachers’ own breakout hit “I Wanna Get Better,” a true explosion of a pop song that highlighted sick guitar shredding and invited all-out mayhem. A confetti cannon, fittingly, shot over the audience to close the night. Turns out Antonoff was right: New York City did indeed have a very good crowd — and band — that night.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 10, 2015