TopSpot USA Live Report: Easton's New Singer Settles In, New City Lions Want More Action

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Mikayla Davis
New City Lions interviewed by TopSpot USA's Frankie "Famous" Nobile (with microphone) and Sean Russell
TopSpot USA's Sean Russell, a local music industry player and subject of a recent New Times Broward-Palm Beach profile, tracks down the latest news and adds insight from the front row of local concerts. On Monday, Russell attended the Rocket Summer's performance at Culture Room featuring South Florida acts Easton and New City Lions.

The Rocket Summer's Monday visit to Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room was a "one-off show" in the middle of the band's run as an opener for the Goo Goo Dolls' U.S. tour. As a result of the booking, West Palm Beach's Easton and Broward County's New City Lions got the opportunity to perform in front of a larger audience than they normally command. While Culture Room's production manager Ash Ali's expectations of a sold-out show fell short, it was to be expected after several prior sell-outs including Alesana, the AP Tour and Motion City Soundtrack. Ali explains: "With the type of tours we've had through here, the kids ran out of a money a little bit."

Photo by Mikayla Davis
Easton's new singer, Chris "I didn't write 'Fix You'" Martin
Easton's set: With only three bands appearing on the bill, Easton needed to make a strong first impression. The three-piece band prides itself on their ability to have a larger-than-life live show. Monday marked only the second live performance for lead singer Chris Martin, who joined the band after they amicably parted ways with their longtime lead singer, Jeremy Michaels. With sweat pouring down his forehead, Martin looked at home singing tracks both new and old. Former Hey Monday drummer Elliot James took up almost half the stage with his custom SJC drum kit, and Marc Ryan was adept playing backwards on the keyboard during the song, "Sending Letters to Jersey."

Assessment: The less than conventional stage setup paired with four guitarists, a keyboardist and a drummer, made it hard to see them perform at peak capacity. At least the band is aware that each show presents a certain number of challenges and opportunities for improvement.

Photo by Mikayla Davis
Can New City Lions learn to make their synchronized stunts more spontaneous?
New City Lions' set: Later in the show, New City Lions made a grand entrance, cutting through pitch darkness and movie soundtrack-inspired builds. This unique aspect of their performance made it evident why the same 30-40 fans seem to follow them from show to show. What it didn't explain was why the rest of the crowd didn't shake their booties, as guitarist Joshua Card explained in the self-examination of their performance. When asked why the crowd didn't really dance, he said, "People are kind of scared to get into shows too much."

Assessment: Whether or not that's a true statement, New City Lions is a polished act that illustrates their cohesion through synchronized guitar flips and evenly spread spotlights. This is also their weak point with the added predictability of their well rehearsed act.

Notes: The future looks bright for both bands. Starting June 1, Easton will be performing in Vietnam, Japan and Australia. New City Lions will embark on a nationwide tour in June, as well. They will travel up the East Coast before manifesting their destiny towards the wild wild West.

-- Sean Russell, Contact him at  

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