Recommended Tracks: “Grocery Store Girl,” “Twenty Something,” “Tripping Over Air”
Artists You May Like: Comfort Club, Anna Shoemaker, ROLE MODEL
A week after The Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga made headlines for tearing the roof off of NYC’s repurposed Racket, formerly known as The Highline Ballroom, 20-year-old singer-songwriter Aidan Bissett was put to task of commanding the big-time room. This show, like nearly every other on this tour before and after it, was sold out. He was supported by Anna Shoemaker.
The Highline Ballroom, with dinner tables taking up more than half of the floor, always felt a little stuffy. Like only certain kinds of shows should be happening there. Racket is different. It is open, spacious, and generally more inviting, catering to more modern concert audiences than its previous iteration.
This certainly benefited the young Aidan Bissett, who was accompanied by guitarist Grant McManus and drummer Fionn Roche. He routinely gravitated towards McManus during guitar solos, as well as during “I Can’t Be Your Friend” when he chose to navigate the stage without the guitar. During these solos, it may be a more crowd-friendly choice to move towards the front of the stage rather than look at a companion for unspoken musical support.
In footage of performances prior to this tour, Bissett looked as if he had not yet figured out how to be comfortable without a guitar in his hand, and was using it as a tool to create a degree of separation from his audience. However, on this night, he was very much engaged, moving around the stage both with and without the guitar, having meaningful crowd interaction, and generally seeming more confident. In both looks and onstage demeanor, he resembles a cross between David Kushner and Jake Wesley Rogers.
He got off to an inauspicious start, audibly cracking in the second verse of first song of the night “All That I’m Craving,” but laughed it off and quickly jumped right back into the tune. His vocals remained consistent throughout the rest of the set, particularly on songs like “Twenty Something,” “Wish It Was Me,” and the stripped down “How’s It Gonna End?” “Twenty Something” is very clearly a favorite of Bissett’s, as he appeared very energized by singing its lively, abrasive chorus: “I only like it when you look at me/ I only like you when you blink and breathe.”
The studio version of a track like “Different” sounds like a more timid “Remember When” by Wallows, while the live version brings the missing heat. The crowd element may be the key, as it would definitely be hard for a New York crowd to NOT connect with a song that sounds like the band that played Terminal 5 four times last summer. You almost hope Bissett would pause, then jump immediately into, “ICANSTILLSEEYOU ATTHEPLACEOUTTHEREWHEN I CLOSED…. MY EYES.”
The crowds lack of familiarity with new song “Planet,” still unreleased, had a negative effect on the reception that song received. Bissett was very self-aware and focused on both his vocals and musicality throughout, but the crowd was very lukewarm. Regardless, it was one of the highlights of the night, and will certainly be shown more love once it’s released.
What the crowd lacked in some areas of the show that demanded their attention, they made up for near the end of the set with “People Pleaser” and the 1-2-3-4 punch of “Grocery Store Girl,” “Sick,” “Bloom,” and “Tripping Over Air.” “Grocery Store Girl,” with its infectious hook led by drum hits in tandem with Bissett’s vocal, was an unexpected delight: “Maybe … I am … better … with YOUUUUUUU. Summer … time … feelin’ … SO BLUEEEEEE.” Bissett stated that “People Pleaser” is his favorite to perform… that he sees it as a “moshing” song. It doesn’t kick off in that way as fast as others do, but he does sing his face off throughout its gritty chorus.
That final stretch of songs brought everyone in the room together. From the crew at centerstage barricade who knew every word all night to the boyfriends who got dragged along, Bissett had them where he wanted them. He played up the youthful energy and relatability of songs like “Bloom” and “Tripping Over Air” with a swag worthy of the sold-out room: “I KNOWWWW, she likes boys that play guitar. Tattooed arms and a beat-up car. I know she’s gonna break my heartttttt.”
After the show, he headed right for the merch table to be able to chat with as many fans as possible. A respectable move, as most artists would only engage during their limited time on their way out of the venue into a waiting car or bus. His fans, craving the kind of short yet impactful conversations that can occur after the high of a show, braved a line that stretched around the corner and all the way up the stairs. Mission accomplished for Mr. Bissett.
Catch Aidan Bissett on the last few dates of his tour:
Stream music by Aidan Bissett: