Hot Country With Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, And Filmore, At Pier 17, July 4th, 2018 Reviewed
The difference between New York and New Jersey is that if country duo Dan + Shay had attempted a “USA, USA” chant at the Prudential instead of the brand new rooftop venue at Pier 17, they might have managed a long chant back instead of the halfhearted ho hum response. There was something a little stickier than the weather as Dan took a picture of us, with the Statue Of Liberty in the background on Independence Day and claimed it looked like freedom. Well, yes, but not American freedom in New York City without a black or Hispanic in attendance. But I digress…
Spotify have a “Hot country” playlist that they relaunched in June and is snapping at their “Rap Caviar” heels, in June they brought it to the CMA fest and for July 4th, opened the Rooftop At Pier 17 with a strong country show. Newcomer Filmore, best in class Dan + Shay, and nice girls finish first Carrie Underwood. That’s about as strong a line up as you are gonna find, especially the band in the middle, and it was the band in the middle that got me away from my computer and into the city on a sweltering hot late afternoon. Dan + Shay are Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, two young (30 and 26) country songwriters who parlayed hits for the likes of Rascal Flatts into a career as a mainstream duo, releasing their first album in 2014 and their third last Friday. Highlighted by their smash hit “Tequila,” the newbie is a steady as she goes, solid as a rock, country album filled with extremely well written love songs. In its slightness, 35 minutes in length, 11 songs, all of them just fine, and some of them a little more, it reminded you of a sense of skill and craft that gets lost in the shuffle.
At Pier 17 Dan +Shay were professional to a turn, like both Fillmore and Carrie they were overly grateful to Spotify, like Fillmore and Carrie they played all the usual country clichés, but unlike Fillmore and Carrie they had some very good songs in their arsenal and performed them with nothing if not precision. On record Dan + Shay are more country, on stage they are a little more rock and roll, with a bracing yet gentle attack, the boy toy Dan and sugar bear Shay play off each other but not like close friends, despite Dan’s claim, like business partners. The forty minute plus set began with one of their earliest songs, and also one of their best, “19 You + Me,” taken at a full tilt and with the audience singing along, it seemed to make sense of their claim that they were gonna party all night (or half an hour, whichever comes first). The audience was enthusiastic, to a degree, waving their arms in the air for the bigger songs, but the duo is too low key to light a fire and the better for it. The only mistake was a shruggable cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling” saved by an all out take on “Tequila”.
The venue itself is pretty wild state of the art stuff, on the edge of Pier 17, escalators take you up and layout is similar to other Pier auditoriums, but with pretty good sidelines just about everywhere and that cool new room feel. The band perform in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and the backdrop is way cool New York centric, opposite the band is the harbor and you can see the Statue Of Liberty in the distance. So, a dramatic place with essence of nyc in every pore. The opening act Filmore has his second album out on Friday and a hit single, “Slower” under his belt. Carrie came on last and Carrie… to quote Helen Bach: “I would rather lick the hinges of a Tupelo brothel than listen to this crap.” This is what I wrote about Carrie the last time I saw her in 2014: “Carrie Underwood, while more believable as a rocker than as Maria Trapp, was too loud and the band were all wrong. Towards the end she belted, and I mean belted though the blogosphere claim lip synced, her way through “Everybody Hurts” and ended her set with a gigantic singalong to “Before He Cheats””. She was even louder and worse at Pier 17. I say this well aware that I actually have friends in common with her, and they claim Carrie is the nicest person in the business and I believe it. There was a gorgeous picture in Billboard today of Carrie cuddling her son minutes before she went on stage. None of it saves her relentless bellowing and crappy songs and over whelmed tedium.