On Tuesday, June 5th, The Roxy welcomed fans fond of melodic guitar and piano rock to enjoy an almost two-hour-long, uplifting, and passionate performance by Bryce Avary, better known as The Rocket Summer. Tuesday also marked the release of The Rocket Summer’s newest album, Life Will Write The Words, so it was fitting that Avary came to glitzy, neon-covered Sunset Strip for his release party in the city where nighttime celebrations continue into the early morning and fans take their love for music quite seriously.
States, fronted by former Lydia singer Mindy White, greeted the crowd with beautiful, wailing vocals reminiscent of Hayley Williams of Paramore; it was unexpectedly impressive to see such powerful vocals by such a small singer. The band played mostly songs off their new album, Room To Run, due out this month, including the delightfully poppy “Captivating Me.” Switching gears, White sang a stripped-down, drawn-out version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” taking her vocals to new heights. “Can’t Explain” was full-bodied pop rock, and White lightheartedly danced around the stage until the end of States set.
The Scene Aesthetic, featuring Andrew de Torres of Danger Radio and Eric Bowley, took the stage backed by a touring band, which gave their sometimes sparse, acoustic guitar-driven emo pop an extra kick. As electric guitars, heavy on the reverb, rang out, they performed a set that included “Come What May” from their A Type and A Shadow EP. The men seemed a little stiff while performing but really shone when they tapped into their folk influences in songs such as “Keep You Around.” When de Torres and Bowley harmonized or overlapped their voices, rather than switching off who took the lead, it was a much more full sound. Despite these shortcomings, their light-hearted pop music warmed up the crowd for The Rocket Summer.
Bryce Avary, the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist behind The Rocket Summer, was welcomed to the stage by an epic drumbeat, a pipe organ, and a crowd already chanting, “Bryce! Bryce! Bryce!” Avary traditionally opens his shows by looping together instruments (he plays all of the instruments on his recorded tracks) so he first pounded out an uptempo drum beat. Looping that with a keyboard and two electric guitars, he created an full explosion of music, which culminated with a crash. Avary smiled broadly and announced that tonight was the album release show for Life Will Write The Words, eliciting thunderous applause from the audience.
Avary opened with the positive The Rocket Summer staples “Do You Feel” and “Hills and Valleys,” explaining this was “a song about following your dreams, which sometimes leads you to California.” With barely a moment to catch his breath, Avary switched from electric guitar to keyboard while running into the audience during the crowd sing-alongs.
Avary’s music is no ordinary pop rock; his tracks are lushly orchestrated, explosively catchy, artful power pop, and the artist maintained a dizzingly high level of energy throughout the show, whether he was playing his instruments, singing full-heartedly, or charming the audience in between songs with his optimistic, upbeat attitude. The evening was filled with songs off the new record, such as “Run and Don’t Stop,” which featured bright, choppy pop chords. Fans were already singing along to the new tracks despite the album being out for less than twenty-four hours.
As if the raised arms, hands cupped in the shape of hearts, and loud singing along didn’t demonstrate the strong connection between the artist and his fans, Avary took his dedication a step further than any artist I’d seen. A box and microphone were set up in dead center of the audience so Avary could play “Soldier” acoustically, inches away from fans. (Please note the man standing directly behind Avary, the only one soaking in this incredible moment sans electronic device.)
Avary then crowd surfed back to the stage before going “old school” and launching into the crowd favorite “Brat Pack.” The audience was deliriously happy to hear such a timeless The Rocket Summer classic and sang the final chorus on their own.
Avary took a shot of the crowd to later post on his Facebook with the caption, “The album release show in LA last night was so special. Made me feel so alive.” before launching into the new track “200,000″ followed by the older, yet equally captivating “Walls.” As he sang the title track off his previous album, Of Men and Angels, he enthusiastically acted out the lyrics as if it were the first time he performed the song. While that song and the following “So, In This Hour” are two of many The Rocket Summer songs that have religious undertones, these thunderous, borderline worship songs were never overtly religious or ostracizing but rather united the audience in what was a clear, undying passion for not only religion, but music.
To kick off the encore and continue his efforts to make sure his fans were having as much fun as he was, Avary — illuminated in a spotlight with just his keyboard — asked, “What do you guys want to hear?” As dozens of songs titles were screamed, Avary decided, “I’ll just play a medley of songs.” He began with “Never Knew” followed by “Save” and “Around The Clock.”
“The night is young, let’s start a dance party!” Avary decided and fearlessly leapt into the audience again. He then hopped onstage and began looping instruments, mirroring the opening of the show. The unstoppable singer fit in one more new song, “Old Love,” before ending the show with the classics “So Much Love” and “Cross My Heart,” during which the audience sang the entire first verse and chorus. Before the final song concluded, Avary had to dive into the crowd one last time.
Avary demonstrated an undeniable talent for music, an overwhelming passion for performing, and a steadfast dedication to his fans who came to sing along and scream, “We love you!” during any musical breaks. Avary expressed his extensive gratitude to the loving crowd, genuinely thankful, saying, “I never take any of this for granted. I love you so much. I don’t want this night to end! Is this real life? Thank you for such an amazing record release show.”
No, thank you, Bryce, for letting us join in your celebration that exceeded what any fan could have hoped for. Hurry back soon.