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Listen Up Tour: Darren Brings Down the House in NYC

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


07/15/2013 4:15 pm
Listen Up Tour: Darren Brings Down the House in NYC

Stephanie Walsh

Lead Events Editor

When the Listen-Up Tour was announced we knew that Darren Criss’ New York City stop would be a big show; Roseland Ballroom is one of the biggest general admission venues in the city. Starkid’s Apocalyptour sold out at that space, and that crowd was huge. It was no surprise that Darren sold it out within minutes. 

On June 27, 4000 Starkids and Gleeks descended upon Roseland Ballroom.  This tour stop was unique not only because Darren invited Charly and Margeaux to play their violins on the last leg of the tour, but Charlene Kaye joined the roster and played her own set before Theo and Darren took the stage.

I have been fortunate enough to see Darren Criss perform live over thirty times; I’ve seen him on a Broadway stage, in multiple states, and at varying scales of shows. The very first time I saw Darren perform was at a bar in Brooklyn over three years ago. The audience consisted of about 20 people, and at least half of them were his friends and family. To see 4000 people gather to see him was surreal. While it was an enormous audience, it was also a bit of a family reunion. Darren’s fans are a family, whether we’ve been around for three or more years or we just discovered him, we are all a big supportive group who come together for a common interest. Emotions were high at Roseland – people that only see each other at Darren’s events met up. It’s amazing to see how some fans have grown up over the last three years.

Charlene Kaye opened the show singing songs off of her Animal Love album. It has been amazing to watch her grow as an artist as well; she was playing an acoustic set in that Brooklyn bar with Darren the first time I saw her. Her performance was flawless and included a surprise duet with Darren Criss during “Dress & Tie,” as well as a cover of Modern Nature by Sondre Lerche. Darren commented that it’s not usually common for a headliner to come out during an opener’s set but that he was making an exception because he and Charlene are such old friends.

From what I understand, Theo Katzman’s sets had been pretty consistent on the tour, and it was certainly on par in NYC. Dare I say that Theo was even more enthusiastic at Roseland since it was sort of a homecoming show? Theo plays gigs in 21+ venues in Manhattan every so often, so people who are more familiar with him were in the crowd as opposed to many of the audience’s through-out the country that had not yet experienced a live Theo Katzman performance.   

Darren opening his set with The Circle of Life is so adorable and is so fitting for him – it gives a nod to the boy who used to post Disney covers on YouTube and reminds his audience that even though this is a bigger show, and he’s certainly evolving as an artist, he is still the same guy.  In addition to the regular set he has done at every tour stop, Darren performed Manhattan by Rodgers and Hart, and Chuck Criss joined his little brother on stage to perform Bob Dylan’s New Morning.

His sound seems to be deviating from the singer/songwriter or “boy and his guitar” into a more Pop oriented artist; “Words,” “Any of Those Things” and “Picture Perfect Girl” are quite ‘bubble gum’.  While the new songs are infectious and I am anticipating the new album, I wonder if any of the old staples are going to get a second life in the mainstream. “I Still Think” is easily one of his best songs, and the version that has been performed on tour with the full band is infinitely better than the acoustic version that is available on iTunes from the Little White Lie soundtrack. But does it fit in to the pop style of his newer material? Time will tell.

I hope that the Listen-Up Tour gave Darren the feedback he was hoping for with the new music.


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