A Friday night in Times Square is often times the last place that someone would want to be. It’s overcrowded, noisy and downright overwhelming. It takes something special for me to fight through hoards of tourists looking up instead of looking in front of them, and that came in the form of Aer headlining at Best Buy Theater, along with Chef’Special and Cody Simpson.
As I stood in line I noticed excited faces of all ages bursting at the seams to run through the doors to get a spot up front. Kids that looked to be barely 7 years old tugging on their parents’ sleeves to “hurry up Daaaaaadddd.” Once inside, the line at the merch table grew to epic proportions, while the people at the rail stood like statues and did not dare budge a single inch. One girl with the whimsical knife and fork of the Chef’Special logo slapped across her cheek looked like she would faint at any second. Another with a huge sign on what I think was a bed sheet was for Cody Simpson. These fans were here for the music and nothing else, which was a nice change of pace.
NYC is a long way away from the Netherlands, but you couldn’t tell when lead singer Joshua Nolet of Chef’Special walked out on stage in a sleeveless shirt, and so much swag that he could have easily been from Brooklyn. The real Brooklyn, not “hipster Brooklyn.” Armed with a ton of cheerful, indie-pop songs, Chef’Special’s set went by way faster than I wanted it to. They had great stage presence, moving from end to end, engaging the crowd at every turn. For being in the pop category, they music was surprisingly heavily influence by reggae, and was quite refreshing to my ears. Guitarist Guido Joseph had a number of killer guitar solos thrown into the mix as well. This band was one of those “I’m so glad I came early” moments for me, and I’m sure I’ll see them again in the future.
Now I’m not entirely sure why I equate the name Cody Simpson with that late 90’s bubblegum pop sound – okay, maybe because of Jessica Simpson – but his music was far from 90’s and even further from bubblegum. Hailing from Australia, Cody played an intriguing mix of blues and pop, and had the guitar chops to pull it off. His band was also just as talented, trading off guitar licks and hyping the crowd up at ever turn.
As the bass blared from the overheard speakers before Aer took the stage, the DJ onstage ran through crowd favorites, mostly to get everyone hyped up. He spent at least 10 minutes onstage, complete with call and response. I knew I was in for something wild and energetic. Then a whirlwind happened right in front of my eyes. Hands, arms, legs were flying everywhere. The hip-hop duo of David von Mering and Carter Schultz whizzed past me, back and forth, hands and arms stretched out to the crowd, breakdancing a bit on the floor, and ultimately stage diving. I didn’t know where to look; so much was happening all at once and the crowd behind me started crowd surfing. It was wild, and intense and it was exactly what I needed. Nowhere near what I expected to see at an all-ages show. Why aren’t all all-ages shows like these?
Article: Lesley Keller