Nashville-based alt-pop band Nightly returned to Boston this past Monday for a near sellout show at The Sinclair, located in Cambridge, right on the Harvard University grounds. Lead singer Jonathan Capeci tweeted earlier in the day that only 12 tickets remained, some of which were still available at start time. Regardless, it was their biggest Boston show to date as headliners, and the band was nothing if not emphatically grateful.
Opening act vaultboy, known for his brand of sad-boy bedroom pop, warmed the crowd up with a near half-hour mix of both up-tempo and emotional tunes. New tune “ghost stories,” meant to prolong Halloween’s “spooky season” for just a bit longer, was well-received, as was “I think I wanna text you,” off his self-titled EP from earlier this year. vaultboy, an unfiltered and slightly socially awkward performer, both of which he plays into as sort of the lovable sad-boy, appeared nervous and, as he stated, a little fatigued. The crowd wasn’t giving him much energy to work with, which seemed to slightly throw him off even more. However, he still displayed his impressive vocal range and flexibility on songs like, “I think I wanna text u,” and “I wish u knew.”
His biggest reaction came from the popular Tik Tok song, “everything sucks,” which he said people would be familiar with but may not know he was the artist behind it. As soon as he sang the opening line, the crowd immediately rallied behind him, clearly proving his point. He closed the set with “why u gotta be like that,” a collaboration with Nightly themselves. However, unlike other shows of the tour, Capeci did not make a surprise appearance for his verse.
Nightly hit the stage promptly at 9:00 p.m., opening the set with the fast-paced “On Your Sleeve,” a fantastic choice to kick off the show. The track was released just a few short months ago in June, but has, apparently, struck a chord with the public, as it received one of the loudest reactions of the set. From there, they dove into self-titled album cut “you should probably just hang up,” and “this time last year,” which has become a staple of their live set since its release in 2019. The crowd was mixed… old and young, male and female. Nightly seems to be an act that can, despite their appeal to the female crowd as the heartthrob-type, connect with guys as well. Besides the collective skilled musicianship, which is evident, Capeci’s effortless suave onstage, and even on record, is likely a factor, as are their emotive lyrics and heartfelt point-of-view, which is relatable to all without seeming dramatic.
All three members, Capeci on vocals and guitar, Nicholas Sainato on drums, and Joey Beretta on guitar, all play with poise and confidence, and were incredibly tight throughout the show. Sainato plays with such heat, and it is impossible to not appreciate live drums on that level, especially at a pop show. He stepped out for his short solo from their self-titled record called “whiskey,” to almost rapturous applause, and deservedly so. Beretta always looks so serious and focused, but lets his guard down occasionally, flipping his hair around and stepping in front to deliver a solo, resulting in massive cheers as well.
“the movies,” released back in early 2020 and dedicated to “all the lovebirds,” also received a warm reaction. As did “Miss You Like Hell,” another older staple that served as the encore of their last headline tour. The song sits on just a few notes but is high within the male register and requires consistent grit and fervor behind it. Capeci never fails to deliver on it, belting it out without breaking a sweat; “Tried to open up about it… called a friend clear my conscious. They said there’s nothin, nothin… I miss you like hell.”
“Amnesia,” their newest collaboration with electronic artist ayokay after 2019’s “sleepless nights,” received a notable ovation, despite being relatively new. Same for “Dirty White Chucks,” their latest release from just over a month ago. An infectious earworm from the first listen, DWC is a song you can have memorized after two listens. They raised the key slightly from the recorded version, which was an excellent move. They stripped it back for the one-two punch of “Younger,” off their 2018 EP, The Sound Of Your Voice, and “older,” off the self-titled album. A lyric from the latter; “But then I remembered the girl from Rhode Island who said that our music saved her life,” was especially emotional here, as the girl referenced in the lyric stood just feet from the stage. She wasn’t acknowledged by name, but the message was delivered and received by both parties.
Nearing the end of the set, Capeci acknowledged the bands history in Boston, and, as he had throughout the night, both physically and verbally, expressed their gratitude to be in the position they are in. He stated the desire to curate a set of both new and old songs to please new fans and old fans, “the OGs,” as he called them, alike, and proceeded to launch into “No Vacancy,” one of their earliest, and most beloved, releases. They, as always, played the anthemic song like they had a death wish, but, unfortunately, that energy was not matched by the crowd.
That changed with the last two songs of the set, “Twenty Something,” arguably their biggest hit, and “hate my favorite band,” a breakout release from earlier this year. First introduced to audiences during their stint as opening act for The Midnight, the latter seems to have shot Nightly to another level. The Boston crowd, finally, came alive, with almost everyone in the room able to connect with the unfortunate yet familiar situation of hating an artist you love after the person you associate them with is no longer who they once were to you. Nightly, as always, brought the fire and passion that they, as an independent group working without a label, have always done. They are, without a doubt, growing hotter and hotter with each day, and are, truly, no longer the little secret so many of their longtime fans have held onto for this long.
Photography by Zach Pigg: zach.pigg
You can catch them on tour till just before Thanksgiving, then at two holiday shows alongside The Wldlfe and Grayscale in Philadelphia in mid-December.