In the first stop on their “Neotheater” Tour, AJR gave their crowd an unforgettable experience filled with effects, storytelling, trumpet solos and of course a set of songs incomparable to many artists. 

Last Friday the three brothers, joined by trumpeter JJ Kirkpatrick and drummer Chris Berry – two instrumentalists on tour with them, drew a crowd to fill the outdoor venue at Stir Cove in Council Bluffs. 

It was more than just a set of songs. The group took every chance they had to show off their talents and unique energy. The band is categorized as indie pop, electropop or electronic music. 

If you asked any fan how they describe AJR’s music, simply put it’s different than what most pop artists produce. While fans know this, the group knows it as well and wanted to show off this unique side by giving a glimpse into the creation of each of their sounds. The example they gave the crowd was dropping a set of keys, recording it and using that sound to create their song.

At one point the artists took a break from their set to give Kirkpatrick a chance to steal the show with a trumpet solo trailing through AJR’s previous album. Throwing in various mixes of songs and keeping his tone, those few moments were something my friends and I were, and still are, wowed by. 

Although a break from their songs, the fans were pleased, and the reactions to the brief pauses were strong. Just as the performers never lost energy, neither did their fans – and for good reason. 

AJR knew how to keep the attention. 

Throughout the performance the group used their background screen to add to the story of the song as well as add color and visual effects. To name a few: lead singer Jack Met walked across the screen giving the illusion of walking down a New York street, he splatter-painted the screen and the most notable thing happened during the finale when the stage itself went completely dark and all we saw were stick figures on the screen and the members blending in as those figures with their outfits. 

This finale included a couple songs, but left the fans fulfilled with their performance of “100 Bad Days” before signing off for the night. 

The event was a long time coming for my friends and I. Since the release of the “Neotheater” album in April, we knew we’d take advantage of the chance to see them play live. I vividly remember listening to the tracks with friends when it first came out. We each had different reactions to the songs. Some we loved while others, like “Birthday Party,” we seemed to question for a bit before finding the appeal in listening to it on repeat. 

The concert told a story of the group and their development over the past 13 years. The brothers began producing music in 2006 in their living room in their Chelsea apartment in Manhattan. They found fame when Ryan tweeted a link of their performance to over 80 celebrities. As more than just a set of songs, but the story of the brothers, this concert set a good precedent for the remainder of the tour.

AJR will continue their tour through December and head overseas to Poland, Germany and Belgium in November. If you missed out on this concert and still want the unique experience AJR provides, they will be in Minneapolis on Oct. 22, Kansas City on Oct. 25 and St. Louis on Oct. 26.

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