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Boyce Avenue at First Avenue, 11/5/14

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Boyce Avenue with Kris Allen and Curtis Peoples
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, November 5, 2014


For an inoffensive concert experience that your mom can enjoy too, look no further than Boyce Avenue. The group is composed of three Manzano siblings: lead singer Alejandro, Daniel on bass, and Fabian playing guitar and handling backing vocals, along with touring drummer Jason Burrows.

The trio made it big via YouTube covers showcasing their amazing voices, especially Alejandro's melodic pitches. But those covers performed live felt tepid. It was like an evening of great singers at a karaoke bar, or a night on American Idol -- especially since season eight winner Kris Allen opened for them.
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Gaining over 10 million YouTube views is no small feat, so the brothers can pat themselves on the back. They're what most young kids who upload covers on the platform aspire to be and how they plan on being discovered these days. The idea of playing bar shows and eventually being discovered by an A&R rep in the audience has dissipated with the internet generation. There's no need for labels when you can do it yourself.


Boyce Avenue is one of the rare unsigned acts who achieve impressive success with no mainstream industry involvement. The confounding popularity of Boyce Avenue's covers -- which over the years have moved into better production stages -- has driven the group to self-release original tracks. Their set is filled with their own songs, implying that they're looking for a career where they are equal to Coldplay and Bruno Mars rather than covering them.
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Their own pieces like "Find Me" and "I Had to Try" -- sung along with by the hard-core fans in the audience -- were heartfelt but banal. Alejandro lacks the frontman charisma that can make or break a band. To give him credit, his vocals were spot-on and strong and often chill-inducing when he hit the sweet spot of yearning, as during their cover of One Direction's "Story of My Life," but how long can you ride that wave of three good-looking, well-dressed men plus incredible covers before it peters out?

Even their covers of Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars" and Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" have no Boyce Avenue behind them. When you hear a band cover a song, they need to make it their own, not get so lost in it that they sound exactly like the original piece.

By their encore, the formulaic evening of music was starting to wear a little thin with their Richard-Marx-ish "Broken Angel" and cover of Kings of Leon's super hit "Use Somebody." Their last track of the night, "Every Breath," was used as a bathroom break and a quick beeline to the exits before the crowd made their way to the doors.

Critic's bias: Not awful, not great. Just a forgettable evening that I could have spent in my pajamas watching their covers on YouTube.

The crowd: Young women with a spattering of men.

Overheard in the crowd: To Kris Allen's guitarist - "So...how do we get, like, you know, VIP passes. I mean, we would rather hang out backstage with you guys instead of Boyce Avenue anyways."

Setlist

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Hear Me Now
Wake Me Up (Avicii cover)
I Had to Try
Because of You
Find Me
Story of My Life (One Direction cover)
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A Sky Full of Stars (Coldplay cover)
Change Your Mind
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman cover)
On My Way
Locked Out of Heaven (Bruno Mars cover)
One Life
I'll Be the One

Encore
Broken Angel
Use Somebody (Kings of Leon cover)
Every Breath

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