Concert Review: Milky Chance at Hammerstein Ballroom

My first encounter with Milky Chance occurred when I was 15. Stolen Dance overtook the radio, as it did my earbuds.

As time went on, Milky Chance slowly dwindled from my playlists and fell subject to the tragic fate of the skip button. Over this past summer, the group’s latest LP appeared in my suggested albums, sparking that old flame. Preparing for a trip down memory lane, I was disappointed to find that the album meant nothing to me. There was no instant attachment, no urge to hit the loop button. I felt detached from the tracks, finding them to feel monotonous, repetitive and overall subpar. Once again it was put on the back burner.

On my Uber ride to the venue, I pondered what was to come of the night, and with it, my feelings towards the group. As I stepped towards Hammerstein Ballroom, the looming disappointment I prepared for turned into confusion. Moving closer to the site, I questioned whether I was at the right place. I even checked my email to make sure I had the right venue. Clouds of excited fans built lines outside, all in some rush to get inside. The lines molded into a packed audience, forming a sea of anxious fans.

Finding a seat, I glanced around and took in my scenery. The audience ranged in almost every way possible, making it difficult to compartmentalize the band. This attempt was my first mistake.

The group, presented by a zealous hypeman, stepped out to 50 Cent’s “Go Shawty, It’s Your Birthday”. Without hesitation, the band kicks in and the energy is felt throughout the site. I was unprepared, to say the least. Even seated far back on the balcony, fans burst into dance, grooving along with the band. The vehemence established during the first song traveled throughout the set, growing with each drum beat.

The crowd was electrified with each recognizable tune. Flashing Junk Mind brought a ramped up guitar solo, and Cold Blue Rain ushered in a newfound love for harmonica solos. With double drums and killer dance moves, and amazing stage lighting to emphasize the fun being had, the show never seemed to slow down, nor did the fans. Admirers danced with friends, sang with little care, and swayed back and forth, following suit to the momentum being built on stage.

The live performance did change my perception of the band for the better, leading them to regain some interest in my eyes. A voice that once felt whiny and strung out became malleable again, altering into a sexy string of song that suddenly had found some slice of meaning.

In the same breath, the traits that turned me off from Blossom did appear mildly throughout the set. The monotonous tone that I felt while listening to the album did seem to carry into the live shows, causing me to pause before deciding whether or not the song was predominantly good, or if it sounded just like the one before. At certain points in the show, it took me a few seconds to register that the band had started to play a new song. 

As I later learned, this group doesn’t exist within confines of whatever imaginary boxes we like to build for artists. Their audience said it all, the group’s music’s home is with the fans.

Though the band in itself surprised me, to say the least, it was the watching the fans that finally made things click. Though I might never be one of the fans biting my nails to get through the line, I can say for sure that Milky Chance knows how to play on one hell of a gig. As the night came to a close, Stolen Dance echoed through the room, prompting a reconnection with a younger me, one still hitting repeat on a tune she couldn’t get out of her head.

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