State Radio live in New York
- By Aimee Kuvadia -
- Dec 13, 2012
It was a cold and blustery evening in New York City. Not many had ventured outside of their homes, and the few that had, had done so reluctantly. The night looked bleak for State Radio, who were scheduled to take the stage at Webster Hall in an hour. The venue was only half-full, and the concertgoers that had arrived in time to see the opening act were standing unenthusiastically, arms crossed tightly at their chests, complaining about how wet their clothes had gotten waiting in line.
The openers Black Pistol Fire, a two-man jam band from Canada, played their hearts out for people whose expressions said, “Let’s get on with it already.” Their performance was unforgettable, almost more so than State Radio’s. The drummer, Eric Owen, played the entire set shirtless wearing only a pair of snug white briefs. However, they failed to get the crowd going, which now seemed utterly incapable of being stimulated.
At precisely 10 p.m., State Radio appeared onstage in front of a large banner displaying a woman, her naked backside and hundreds of flying creatures, either birds or bats. By this time, Webster Hall was swarming with people, many of whom seemed like devoted fans. But the audience was still rather subdued for the main act starting.
The band quite appropriately opened their benefit show with ‘Calling All Crows', a reggae-rooted song about joining the movement for change. The soothing voice and melodious guitar playing of the band’s frontman Chad Urmston perfectly complemented Mike “Mad Dog” Najarian’s skillful drumming and Chuck Fay’s expert bass playing. Not one member of State Radio stood out as better than the others, and the tracks chosen by the band to perform allowed each member to individually flaunt his talents at some point during the show. The band as a whole, however, sounded much better playing reggae than noisy punk rock, which sometimes bordered on plain irritating.
About 15 minutes into the performance, Urmston undertook an impressive whistling solo to begin ‘Black Cab Motorcade.’ By this time, pot smoke was billowing and the crowd was getting rowdy, forming mosh pits, dancing and singing along. The style and sound of the State Radio was overall reminiscent of Sublime or O.A.R., as it was indie rock infused with reggae. Unlike Sublime and O.A.R., however, song themes were not as lighthearted.
Urmston, the band’s lead songwriter, said he’s influenced extensively by social issues when creating lyrics.
“People who we know are on death row, or our friends who were in Iraq. Hearing their stories and struggles is very inspiring,” Urmston said. “We try to do something about it.”
Saturday’s show was dedicated to marriage equality. Najarian had “1138” fake tattooed on his forearm to bring awareness about the number of rights associated with marriage that gay couples are denied.
“We’re ashamed to be part of a country that discriminates,” Urmston said.
The band concluded with ‘Camilo,’ Urmston crowd surfing and a shorter version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ which Urmston thought to perform, he said, because Lennon was shot on the same night in New York City just 32 years ago.
Before the band made its way off the stage, Urmston encouraged audience members to sign petitions that had been laid out by the exits.
“We’ve got something for everyone,” he said. “Just join the movement.”
It’s no secret members of State Radio espouse liberal politics. But the band didn’t seem eager to push their beliefs onto concertgoers. They simply wanted their fans to believe in something, since today’s generations are notorious for being apathetic. They wanted them to actually be the change they want to see in the world.
It was truly energizing to experience this new breed of entertainers, ones in the industry for reasons more humble than money and fame.
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