Concert Review: Arkells, Jamie N Commons, & X Ambassadors

October 14, 2014: The Pike Room, Pontiac

One of the few talents I seem to possess is the ability to win Twitter competitions, which sometimes spreads into other websites. There was a contest on Paste’s website to win tickets to see Arkells on their fall tour as well as a meet and greet with the band so I tried my luck and won for their show at The Pike Room in Pontiac. I spent the week before getting acquainted with their new album, High Noon, as I didn’t know it as well Michigan Left. The album is filled with catchy pop rock anthems that I knew would be great live.

I haven’t seen The Pike Room that packed since I went to the Into It. Over It. show back in February and judging by the reaction that Arkells got when they took the stage, a lot of people were there to see them. It could have been that their Pontiac stop was probably the closest to their home town of Hamilton, Ontario, there was quite the roar when Max Kerman asked how many Canadians were there.

If anything makes me love a song more it’s hearing it live and I can truly say that hearing each song from High Noon made me want to go back and listen to the album over and over again. Everyone in the audience was bouncing along enthusiastically to possibly my favorite track off the album, “11:11”. I heard a lot of girls near me swoon when Max Kerman explained that he had written “Leather Jacket” after a marathon of Friday Night Lights had ignited a love of the American southern accent in him, and caused him to unconsciously start speaking in one after listening to it so much. The guys closed out their set with their protest song, “Fake Money”, ending on a perfect note. The icing on the cake was getting to meet the guys who were nice enough to give me a signed poster and CD. Can’t wait for them to come back to Michigan

Next up was Jamie N Commons who I knew absolutely nothing about. I watched as the long haired, baby faced Commons took the stage with one other person and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The voice that came from the stage immediately made every head in the small venue snap toward it. Commons himself hails from Bristol, England but his voice is straight up southern blues and folk. The storytelling and vocal talent of Commons goes way beyond his 26 years. The fact that he spent his formative years living in Chicago explains the influences of his music. The songs ranged from somber to rip-roaring and made instant fans of everyone at the Pike Room that night. I can’t wait to see what this young talent has in store in the future.

Last up was X Ambassadors and the roar of applause and shouts from the crowd made it clear why the Pike Room was so packed. I think the band is one that could make a fan out of just about anyone regardless of how they felt about their music. They have a lot of energy and a lot of love and appreciation for each person that comes out to see them and their music is damn catchy. It honestly baffles me that their tracks don’t get regular radio play, specifically “Shining” and “Giants”. I also love that Sam Harris showed off his saxophone chops, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a fellow saxophonist. The guys closed out their set by bringing Jamie N Commons back on stage to play “Jungle”, which you will probably be hearing all over the radio any day now.

While a free concert is nice, an amazing free concert is even better. Alone these band are pretty great but together they create a near perfect concert experience.