In Sayerville, New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom, the crowd seeing THE DRIVER ERA went wild. And then they went wild again. And then they went wild again. Sometimes, it was expected; beloved band member Ross Lynch might’ve pulled off a surprise breakdance move or announced a fan-favorite song, for example. But sometimes, fervent cheers ensued just because he’d taken a drink of water.
Seriously—a quick sip from a plastic water bottle caused the crowd to lose their minds. Even Ross laughed at that, cheekily taking a second drink to cue the screams once more.
THE DRIVER ERA’s first show of their 57-stop 2022 tour was an undeniable success.
We’re not surprised. Read Magnetic’s interview with THE DRIVER ERA here.
Photos of THE DRIVER ERA in Concert
Who Opened for THE DRIVER ERA?
An integral part of THE DRIVER ERA’s success was their openers. Bands almost Monday and Summer Salt (who will accompany THE DRIVER ERA for their U.S. shows) kicked things off with spunk and sweetness, respectively.
Performing to audiences who don’t know your stuff well is a tough gig, but almost Monday’s opening set was one of the most successful. Dawson Daugherty—almost Monday’s pizazz-filled frontman—bopped, pranced, and twirled through indie pop bangers like “parking lot view” and “sunburn.” His animated expressions might’ve captured the waiting crowd’s attention, but his palpable joy and charm secured their hearts.
Summer Salt shook things up with their unconventional layout: all four instrumentalists/singers (including vocalist/guitarist Matthew Terry and drummer/vocalist Eugene Chung) lined up along the edge of the stage, each equally close to the crowd. A self-described “choral reef rock” duo, one might expect their trop-pop lineup to lull listeners to sleep—but that didn’t happen.
Instead, they added grit and a kind of passionate rawness to the breeziness that they’re known for. In the words of long-time Summer Salt fan Julia Zeman, “to see it in person was to understand it in a much different way that kind of reverberated differently in you.”
Fans of Summer Salt’s soundscapes will love recs for Artists Who Sound Like Her’s.
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What is THE DRIVER ERA Like Live?
The arrival of THE DRIVER ERA on the stage resulted in deafening screams. Ross Lynch slid into center stage while Rocky Lynch rocked on stage right. Both halves of the duo sang and played guitar. Another Lynch brother, Riker, joined them to play bass and provide additional vocals. It was THE DRIVER ERA’s first time performing recently-released singles “Keep Moving Forward” and “Malibu.”
Outside of THE DRIVER ERA’s discography, the Lynch brothers threw a few “curveballs” in the mix. Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” was among these, along with a Teen Beach Movie song Ross had written for the film he once starred in.
But if screams indicate curveball-ness, the surprise tracks fan favorite was “Cali Girls:” a 10-year-old song from the Lynch siblings’ former band, R5. (Perhaps the noise had something to do with the fact that Ross had just removed his overshirt, too.)
Instead of singing, “I can’t get those Cali girls out of my head,” Ross changed the line to mention “Jersey girls.” Also marked by the audience noise level, another memorable moment included Ross’ spontaneous breakdancing trick: a backspin during “Nobody Knows.”
Of course, I could only see the action because I’d followed The Short Girl’s Guide to Concerts, Shows, and Festivals.
Although they’d already performed a number of beloved tracks like “Flash Drive,” “Preacher Man,” “Low,” and “Nobody Knows,” when THE DRIVER ERA left the stage for the first time, it was potently clear (and audibly demanded) that they return for an encore. So, they did. (Ross wearing a Hawaiian lei, of course.) Final selections included “Fade,” “Afterglow,” and “A Kiss.” The energy of performers and audience members alike reached a blissful high.
“I’m a little sad we started the tour here because I don’t think anything’s gonna top this,” Ross said.
With so many stops, perhaps it’s best that THE DRIVER ERA kicked off their stellar tour with their loudest crowd—if anything manages to top the Starland Ballroom, THE DRIVER ERA might get hearing damage.