Ballroom / Guest Post / Live Music / Meatpacking District

The Vamps, Highline Ballroom

By Samantha Wong

The ladies of Crushing Vinyl know that I am a pop princess. My first “compact disc” was Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, soon followed by the likes of The Spice Girls, BSB, Christina, 98⁰, and basically all the major pop bands, divas and divos of the 90s and early 2000s (plus a few rogue soundtracks like Bring It On and Pokemon The First Movie). It’s no surprise that I’ve carried my pop-passions from my plaid-jumper-wearing days in primary school into my very professional-looking (1) cube at the office.

Call it regression; call it immaturity; call it unhealthy, but I will never give up my boybands and girlbands of the past, and I look forward to filling my listening library with tomorrow’s pop artists as well. I love pop music! It gives my life color and electricity, so much so that sometimes I feel like my body will propel itself into space! Pop music and terms like “boyband” get a bad rep sometimes, but hopefully my guest blog post can change a couple of minds…

Enter The Vamps: Bradley Simpson, Connor Ball, James McVey, and Tristan Evans. Over the past couple of years I have developed an affinity for British pop groups due to enabling from a couple of anglophile friends, and The Vamps are no less deserving of my very-divided attention. I’ve known of the band for about 18 months now, thanks to another talented group of lads called McFly and a cheeky chap called Conor Maynard, but I didn’t really cozy up to their original music until April of this year. All it took was one listen to their debut single “Can We Dance,” (co-produced by none other than Bruno Mars!) — the declaratively epic intro, the retro horn chord progression, the nimble bass and guitar tabs, not to mention the drums! I was hooked, lined, and sunken. Drowned really. So imagine my sheer joy at seeing The Vamps perform live, less than 4 yards away from me, at the Highline Ballroom on June 15th (2) as MTV’s crowned “Artist to Watch.”

The nice thing about Highline Ballroom was the elevated platform mere steps away from the stage, complete with table service. I had my whiskey-ginger in one hand, and my new Canon EOS M (3) in the other. I was in paradise. Although, despite my avoidance of the rib-bruising sardine-can of a crowd below, I still managed to drip sweat down my brows the entire time (4). Hopefully the lavender-colored lighting was flattering.

The. Set. Was. SMASHING. The gig began with dimmed lights, a bass drop, and an ominous house beat, which I can only hope was produced by the band’s drummer and resident producer, Tris. The four-piece carried themselves with incredible charisma and commitment to putting on a good show. How anyone can simultaneously slap a bass, turn in an aerial jump-tuck, engage a crowd full of strangers, AND sing–I will never know. They kicked off the set with “Wildheart,” an up-tempo, fast-strumming, very on-trend hit. Then came the designated YOLO track (5): “Last Night,” and my personal slice of heaven: “Somebody to You,” a sweetly simple and simply sweet track with a foot-stomping down beat, that perfectly encapsulates the innards of any loving heart, thanks to the co-penmanship of veteran hit-makers: Savan Kotecha and Carl Falk. With ambitiously chosen covers like The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” bromantically infectious chemistry (6) on stage, and the chops to single-handedly (7) write a heartbreak anthem as sincere as “She Was the One,” The Vamps did not disappoint.

There’s something really special about watching an up-and-coming band from a different country, perform their songs in the U.S., especially for the iconic MTV brand (8). You can feel their hunger, their anticipation. You can see their genuinity. You definitely leave the gig rooting for their success in every way. My only regret is that the gig ended at all.

Footnotes:

(1) My cube may or may not be plastered in pictures of One Direction, including a novelty box of Cheese Nips that I swore never to eat, especially because the box has past its expiration date.

(2) My dad was at an SF Giants game across the country, so I figured this was an acceptable way to celebrate Father’s Day, right?

(3) This night was literally my first time taking my new camera for a snap, and I didn’t really know how to properly use it, so please excuse the very poor quality of my video. I also could not resist the urge to rock out to “Mr. Brightside.” Who could?

(4) I’m a profuse sweater. Make-up professionals say its good for my skin and I’ll be glad later in life, but for now it’s just embarrassing.

(5) I apologize for my perpetuation of this term

(6) There was kissing.

(7) Well four-handedly really since there’s four members in the band. Well, there are eight hands total I guess.

(8)  The channel formerly know as “Music Television.”

RCS Takeaway: I was lucky enough to go to this concert with Sam, and it was my third concert that weekend! I’d been to this venue once before but on the balcony. For this show, we were seated on a raised platform at a stage left table–and it was perfect. I looked around the room and thought,”How amazing is this for the girls here to be so close to a band/group of guys they love so much?” I would be laid out on the floor for YEARS if I ever got to experience someone I loved that close and intimate. They definitely put on a good show for their fans. PS, the photo of me and Sam shows my perfect post-gym look–killing it! :-/

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