Still, I really love Jeremy's music, and I didn't want to miss the chance to see him live while he was still playing venues on the smaller side. I got to the venue an hour early and figured I'd be in at least the first hundred people under the false impression line up wouldn't start too early since there weren't many people who lined up for Alexander 23 more than an hour or two before doors at his show the weekend before and there seems to be a lot of crossover in their fanbases. The show was at the Novo downtown, so the line snaked in weird directions and was cut off in strange segments to fit everyone in the winding passages of the multistory venue area. It reminded me of the House of Blues set up in Houston.
Despite being way back in line, the venue wasn't particularly full when we got inside. The Novo is tricky because you can't buy pit specifically (or couldn't at this show), but you needed a special wristband to get in. Only one of the attendants on the far side of the room had the wristbands, and that wasn't made super clear, so I only found out after pit was too full to bother how the system worked. So a special note if you go to the Novo, head to the right side of the room to get in line for free pit bands. Instead, I opted to stand at the low balcony that separated the bar area from pit right in front of the sound booth. Beyond a few ridiculously tall men right in my view, it was a pretty perfect spot and allowed me to grab a bottle of water while I waited.
Valley Boy were the first openers, and they were certainly interesting. The two guys were definitely endearing, and their folk-based sound was intriguing, but their lyrics were a bit disconcerting (especially on their new track "Disgusting"). In the middle of their set, I got a tap on my shoulder, and a girl asked if I was wearing Alexander 23 merch from tour. I was in fact, and I'd worn it in the hopes that exactly this instance would happen. Jeremy and Alexander have a song together and are definitely in the same musical circle, so I figured the shirt might help me make a friend while I was at the show. The girl held up her phone and showed me a photo of Alexander that she took at the show the week before as her lock screen. Through the next intermission we chatted about the shows and our different experiences at his concert. She asked if I thought Alexander would be at the show tonight, and I told her my theory that he was one of the "surprises" Jeremy had teased on his Insta story. Soon enough, Alexander's Instagram story verified that theory, and we all got super excited.
Del Water Gap was the second opener. They had been set to open for a couple shows I'd consider going to before, so I actually did my research for once and listened to the first 5 songs on their brand new album. It was actually really great, so I'd been anticipating their set. I've been meaning to write about their album on here for a while, but I just haven't had the time to really dive in. While I didn't pick up on a ton of their lyrics in the live set, their sound is very much the "indie movie" feeling that wins me over every single time. What really cemented them in my mind though, was that after their set, while Jeremy's crew was setting up, the lead singer came out and grabbed a set list to give to a girl towards the right side of the crowd. I'm not sure if she'd made a sign or asked on Twitter before the show, but the delivery seemed very intentional and sweet.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Jeremy live. I'd listened to his two albums front to back at least ten times each, but I hadn't gone through any videos or his social media all that much. He was one of the rare artists that I mostly liked solely based on the music. He'd come out at Chelsea Cutler's show, but their duet there hadn't gone off exactly as planned, and that was all I had to go on.
But from the second Jeremy stepped on the stage, he was already bringing down the house. Outside of anything he did as a musician, I was immediately impressed by his daisy print jeans that were absolutely amazing. I'm not sure if a Jeremy Zucker closet IG account exists, but I would love to know where they came from.
Jeremy has an incredible command of the stage, and the energy he gives is paralleled and more by the crowd. Jeremy Zucker fans take the cake for the best crowd I've ever witnessed. They were engaged from start to finish jumping and dancing and waving and singing. Everyone was in it together and giving their job as a concert attendee 100%. The floor of the GA section I was standing on shook multiple times over the course of the night. It reminded me of a now famous line in one of Rob Sheffield's Harry Styles pieces about feeling the floor of MSG shaking during "Kiwi". The crowd at the Novo was on that level.
The show also made me realize just how completely packed Jeremy's discography is with amazing song. Each one offered the same level adrenaline rush or unflagging emotion. There was space for all kinds of feelings in the set, and it was perfectly balanced."Nothing's The Same". The song was the entire reason I looked up Jeremy in the first place. Also, it had only just dawned on me a few weeks ago that the song was somewhat about quarantine when I saw the music video for the first time, and seeing it through that lens made me obsessed with the song all over again. So it was incredibly special to get to be at the show where the song made its live debut. Also, Alexander is an incredible performer, so I will never complain about random excuses to see him play live more often.
At the end of the night, everyone started chanting "encore" after he left the stage following "Supercuts," which was the last song on the setlist posted online. He did eventually return to the stage announcing that he had told his team that encores weren't happening on this tour. But he gave us the one more song we'd asked for to soak in the final, wonderful moments of the night.
When the lights went up, I walked over to the far side of the bar to see what looked like a second merch booth set up. I'd passed Jeremy's merch booth outside the doors to the show on my way in, but I was curious what this second merch area was for. It turned out to be where Valley Boy (and possibly Del Water Gap) were selling their merch instead of having it combined with Jeremy's booth. I couldn't tell if the artists had come out to the booth to talk to fans or not, but I decided not to wait around over there since I was hoping to snag one of the signed Crusher posters. I almost bought one on the way in, but since they weren't rolled or in poster tubes, I knew it wouldn't survive the show.
I crossed the room again to get to the exit closer to the merch stand, and when I got close to the side doors, I looked up from my phone to realize that Alexander 23 was standing a few feet in front of me talking to a fan. Since we happened to end up in the same place, I walked over and quickly said hi and got a hug, but I didn't want to hold him up because it looked like he was trying to make a quick getaway from the venue. Shockingly, the post show merch line wasn't terrible, and I asked the woman running the booth if she had any more of the signed posters. She unpinned the example one on the wall behind her and announced I got the last one. It felt like the cherry on top of a night that wound up perfectly clicking together.
My day really hadn't gone at all to plan before the show, and I'd even wondered if going was a mistake as I I first stood in line to get in, but I had the absolute time of my life once the show started. It made me remember why I love concerts so much. While I felt lonely in line by myself after going to previous shows with an amazing group of friends, once I got inside I was reminded that we were all here for a collective experience. I also love having the chance to go to shows where I simply like a portion of the artist's music but don't really know a ton about them, and then the show is so incredible it makes you want to delve further into their story and entire catalog. The energy of the performance and the incredibly engaged crowd has stuck with me, even weeks later.
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