Standing in line outside Rockwood Music Hall this past Monday night, the amount of Irish brogues heard filtering throughout the crowd was staggering. It was if we had all been magically transported to a venue on the outskirts of Brigadoon and at any moment, the bouncer would bring out his shillelagh to beat back the concertgoers who were trying to sneak into the sold-out show. Pedestrians asked the people standing in line who they were waiting to see, more than likely expecting the brogues to reply, “U2” or maybe even “The Cranberries” given the length of the line. But the 20-somethings smugly smiled and replied, “Picture This,” as if nothing more needed to be said.
Picture This is a band hailing from the Emerald Isle and have made a major splash on the UK music scene. Celebrating the debut of their new album in the States following a well-received performance at SXSW, the duo consisting of Jimmy Rainsford (drums) and Ryan Hennessey (vocals/guitar) took the stage as smoothly as the more seasoned performers who have gone before them. The Rockwood show was the only show to sell out on their small US tour and Hennessey repeatedly thanked the crowd for their support and attendance. While the majority of the audience was filled with Irish transplants and young women swooning over the gentleman on stage, there were a select few who seemed to have heard a buzz about the band and came to see what all the fuss was about.
The hour long show included some of Picture This’ more successful songs and fan favorites, the biggest hit being “Take My Hand” which elicited a very loud sing along from the entire venue, surely much to the chagrin of the band performing next door on Stage 1. Despite their definitive popularity with the crowd, this is a band that is difficult to classify. They are neither groundbreaking in their lyricism or nouveau in their approach to song writing. They sing of love and relationships and heartbreak, the usual sort of subject matter that fills the airwaves. They, at times, lacked the dynamics in their performances that one usually sees with a popular band—not charisma, they have that in spades—but rather the highs and lows of a well-plotted show that takes the audience on a journey and allows time for them to catch their breath. Every song was filled with high energy, rousing choruses and the band played as if each song was an anthem to live by. And the crowd was buying it hook, line and acoustic sinker.
What is it about Picture This that had so many people entranced? While scanning the audience that was almost completely female, the nail finally presented its head so it could be hit: this band is a soundtrack band. Every song had the all-encompassing swell of emotion and pace that would fit perfectly at the ending of a romantic-comedy or maybe even an episode of Girls. One could almost see the screen fading to black at the end of each Picture This song as the lead characters embrace with tears rolling down their face, having found each other after a long arduous journey or some such nonsense. Girls in the audience were closing their eyes as the music played, picturing themselves in the arms of their beloved as Hennessey bewitched them with his voice. It would not be fair to classify the band’s tunes as one-note as they are well composed, nor are they just “one-hit wonders” as each song on its own is quite uplifting. Rather, this is a band that is more aptly cast as a band with several hit singles which, when strung together, do not quite create the right kind of live show. They would be better represented in a Spotify mix or iTunes shuffle play as the songs lumped together sound too similar to resonate as they should.
Article: Hannah Soule