They were playing at the Moon, so we didn’t expect them to have such a spectacular light show.
American Authors is a rock group based out of New York City, the ones responsible for the hit song, “Best Day of My Life.” Most of their music has this upbeat tone, hopeful, which is a breath of fresh air when going to see them live. Their more melancholy numbers included a version of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” but for the most part the group spent their homecoming show doing their own music, which revolves around themes like love, living for the moment, and appreciating where you come from.
James “Adam” Shelley, lead the guitar and occasional banjo player, is Tallahassee born and raised (at one point in the concert, he exclaimed cheerfully that he went through Leon High School and Florida State before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. The crowd, of course, went wild. Who doesn’t want to hear about a hometown hero, one of the ones who made it out and made it famous and followed their dream?)
Not only did we get to see American Authors, but they brought along some pretty great opening bands. First up was Oh Honey, another New York based group that has a lead female vocalist who has a sound reminiscent of Of Monsters and Men. This was Oh Honey’s first show of the tour, and their stage presence was a little more stiff than the other groups, but once they started singing everyone loosened up and their bluegrass brand of rock was a good way to warm up the crowd. (Literally. Word from the wise: the Moon is really, really cold.)
Oh Honey was followed by The Mowgli’s, a California alternative rock band with an improbable number of people on stage. Six men and one woman took the stage, and the lead singer opened his mouth and proceeded to sing like an angel. Though I’d never heard of them before (this means absolutely nothing, I think The Monkees are the new cool thing) it was obvious that some people in the crowd were Mowgli’s groupies. Their half-hour set was enthusiastic and filled with suggestions from the crowd as to what song they should do next.
They bowed out at 9, an hour and a half after the concert started, and half an hour later the lights went out and American Authors took the stage is a rather spectacular fashion.
The light show was amazing, I’ll just say that again. This band’s been on tour for two years and it’s obvious because they have the whole showmanship thing down. When the white lights on stage flicked on to announce their entrance it was so cool and so very surprising that my friend screamed in terror.
And for an hour and a half, the band was present. You know the feeling of good concerts–it feels like everyone’s involved and kind of helping to make the vibe, but it’s the band, and especially the charismatic lead singer, who’s the ring leader of the energy.
American Authors has a couple of cool things about them. A banjo player. Drums scattered across the stage so that anyone can contribute the pulse of the music whenever the urge (or, probably, script) strikes them. And they were the smallest of the bands we saw, four people in relation to Oh Honey’s five or Mowgli’s (it’s still amazing to me) seven.
The tickets were $17 in advance and $22 at the door. We got there at 7:00 for a 7:30 show and didn’t leave until nearly 11. The Moon has food and drinks and seats if you’re not the standing type, and aside from it being very cold everything about the venue was inviting and comfortable enough that staying for four hours to see the encore was the best thing you could possibly do with your night.
It doesn’t sound like American Authors are going to stop touring anytime soon, going to Georgia this weekend, the North for a couple of weeks after that, and Europe for all of November. If you’re ever in one of the (many) cities they’ll be playing in, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to their show.
by KATIE AVAGLIANO / managing editor