"I'm Not Famous" is the song with which AJR opened their headlining show at Northern Virginia's Jammin Java club on Tuesday night (March 7). But if the wildly enthusiastic young (and largely female) audience that sold out the concert - and the $50 per person meet-and-greet event that preceded it - has its way, the song may become an ironic artifact. The three Met brothers - Adam, Jack and Ryan (their initials provide the act's name) write their own songs, play their own instruments and create an intense social-media connection with their fans in a way that wasn't available to previous boy-band-siblings like Hanson and the brothers Jonas.
The New York City-based trio have been making catchy indie pop for the past decade, beginning as street performers and then building a fan base through fun YouTube videos, like the electro-pop single "I'm Ready," which garnered over 18 million YouTube views (and 44 million Spotify streams). "Weak," from their most recent EP, What Everyone's Thinking, racked up over three million views as a simple lyric video, but a new, live action clip, featuring the guys on a spooky NYC subway train, seems destined to became a new favorite.
After serving as opening act for such artists as Andy Grammer, Demi Lovato, Train, and Ingrid Michaelson, the brothers have become experienced and exciting live performers. Adam is the relatively quiet one, mostly playing bass but eliciting squeals when he takes to the mic for a short intro or occasional lead vocals. Ryan, who does a lot of the writing and production for the band, plays keyboards and ukulele and beams the brightest smiles during fan singalongs. And frontman Jack, usually capped with a furry hat, could easily have a second career as a calisthenics instructor, his whirling dervish energy nearly exhausting, but also exhilarating.
At this DC-area date, singer/songwriter Hailey Knox opened the show with a 40-minute set that featured original material from her A Little Awkward EP as well as a few covers. The latter make perfect sense since the New York-based performer rose to popularity with acoustic covers of pop hits posted on the Internet. Though only 18, Knox has an assured, professional presence, a lovely voice and a mastery of the guitar-and-loop-pedal style that turned her idol Ed Sheeran into a stadium act. Support guitar from a friend identified simply as Juno, gave the material an even brighter sheen.
AJR will be wrapping up the first segment of the "What Everyone's Thinking" tour this month, but are in the exploratory stages for additional dates, including, possibly, a jaunt overseas. Catch 'em in the smaller venues while you can. AJR may not be famous now, but they're certainly making a good run for it.
"What Everyone's Thinking" U.S. Tour:
March 9 - Allston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
March 10 - Hamden, CT - The Space
March 11 - New York, NY - Gramercy Theatre
March 18 - Salt Lake City, UT - In the Venue