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Location: Rooftop of the EMI office in New York City
Date: October 23, 2012
Event: Colton Dixon showcase, brought to you by EMI CMG and 19 Entertainment.
It had been a dreary day in New York City marked by sporadic rain and overcast skies. Not the most promising of conditions for a rooftop event with plugged in instruments! Luckily, it was dry by the time Colton began his set, and stayed that way until shortly after his set finished. 19 Entertainment’s Lane Newland (whom I have to single out as being very friendly and helpful at the event) mentioned that Colton and his band had had to soundcheck in the rain.
Colton was introduced by Core Media Group’s new Nashville-based Senior VP who is responsible for oversight of Core’s business in the country and Christian music sectors, Jim Weatherson. Weatherson talked about how excited he was to introduce Colton, mentioned that the people there likely knew Colton from his time on the most recent season of American Idol, and said that Colton is the hardest working guy he’s known.
Colton was already on stage with a band that featured a lead (electric) guitarist, a bass guitar player, and a drummer. He launched immediately into an uptempo track called “Noise,” which featured recurring discordant piano chords from Colton and a big chorus built around a lyric that either went “Everything is good” or “Everything is grace.” Or both, because to be honest I thought I heard both lines (this is going to end my foray into attempting to quote Colton’s lyrics). After “Noise,” Colton thanked the crowd for coming out and talked about this rooftop venue being a really cool place to play. He joked that his band had had to simulate a siren during the song just then, but during soundcheck, he had gotten “natural sirens” punctuating his songs. He then introduced his new single, “You Are” which is set to hit Itunes next Tuesday, October 30. Playing applausemeter, this is probably the song that drew the most drawn out apprecation of the 4 songs. It was the song that made me notice that Colton’s voice sounds fuller and more open live. Colton followed with “Never Gone,” which sounded less orchestral and had a heavier bass going to make it rock harder live. That performance got what I thought was the loudest applause when it was over.
I’m not sure what the makeup of the crowd on the roof was but judging from some of the introductions made to Colton after his set, there were definitely some younger fans there who attended the show thanks to a relative connected to the management, media or label apparatus. I mention that because it’s possible the bigger response to “You Are” and “Never Gone” was due to their familiarity to at least some of the crowd (which probably numbered around 30-40 people). However if it was a majority industry/media/blogger crowd where it’s tough to get a big reaction then I’d say Colton did very well. It also seemed to me like Colton’s phrasing was most free and confident when he sang “Never Gone,” likely on account of Colton having performing it so many times live.
Colton introduced the last song of his set as “crazy,” which his band chiming in with “fun.” He told us that he was about to play “In & Out Of Time,” and compared the song to something Muse might play. This was definitely the song in the set that featured the most internal rhythmic variation and melodic turns. It was punctuated by some driving bass guitar chord progressions and featured a pretty neat drum changeup about 2/3 of the way through the song that gave Colton’s vocal and the guitars a little air, which gave the song a little extra spark. Like “Never Gone,” “In & Out Of Time” tested Colton’s range a little bit. “In & Out Of Time” also featured Colton breaking out a falsetto for a line. “Noise” and “In & Out Of Time” should please Colton fans eager to hear him rock out more, he certainly seemed to enjoy the intensity of his uptempo numbers.
I had the chance to speak briefly with Colton after his set. Asked about his collaborators on the songs he had played, Colton confirmed that “Noise” is a song he wrote with busbee (who is known in the Idol world to have cowritten songs on albums by Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Haley Reinhart , Casey Abrams, and Lee DeWyze) and that “You Are,” which he started writing with friends back home in Tennessee is also a song he finished with busbee. “Never Gone” and “In & Out Of Time” are both songs he wrote with the guys who play in his band. I asked Colton if we might see him back on Idol next season in the capacity of supportive brother or perhaps promoting his own music. Colton said that he hoped so and that would be awesome. For those of you who want to know if he was being coy about something he already knows is going to happen, I didn’t think he was. But to be honest, I didn’t have a high expectation that he would spill the beans even if Idol has already invited him back to perform.
I also asked Colton if he could confirm the February 2013 target date for his debut album, and he said he could not – he said that they were aiming for late January but there was nothing set in stone yet. I think that was as direct an answer as he could give at this time, considering release dates involve all kinds of label and management strategizing that are often outside an artist’s control. I also brought up the NHL lockout to Colton, knowing he is a big fan of his hometown Nashville Predators. He naturally said that he was bummed out bigtime about it (he sure sounded like it, too), Apparently he was attending the Kelly Clarkson/The Fray concert at the Bridgestone Arena (where the Preds play) in September when news of the lockout broke. At this point, the raindrops that had started to fall after his set ended were intensifying and there was still a bunch of people waiting to speak with Colton so I thanked him for his time and wished him luck.
On a side note, I thought Colton was very accommodating to those who wished to speak to him (he was still talking to fans half an hour after his set was done). I know that this is part of the job and it’s not like there was some overwhelming crush of people clawing to get a moment of his time the other night. But being as comfortable and conversational as Colton was in this situation is either a skill, a personality trait, or a combination of both and I think that will serve him well in his line of work.
* Because I am a giant fail, I can’t upload pictures from the event until this evening. I’ll tweet out an update when that is finally done.
Tagged with: Colton Dixon
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