Last night the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center was cast in a calming blue light with giant, ornate snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. I’d like to say the decorations were because they really enjoy winter over at the Manhattan Center but really, it was for Pandora’s Discovery Den Holiday Concert. With Rudimental, Kiesza, and The Neighbourhood set to perform, it was going to be a pretty stacked night of killer performances; the wait times between acts could also be considered killer. Interestingly, Skylar Astin and John C. McGinley from Ground Floor came out to introduce the first act and their (probably last minute) awkward introduction was forgotten by the time Rudimental came on.
When Rudimental took to the stage, it instantly became a party in the Grand Ballroom. The packed audience danced and waved their glow sticks in the air to what was a mercilessly fun performance. A definite set highlight was “Waiting All Night” thanks to its killer vocals but this was a constant factor throughout their set. There was not a single point in which vocal performance faltered and that was pretty impressive with the never-ending motion and dancing happening onstage. There were moments when Piers Agget and DJ Locksmith could be seen running around the stage like they were kids in a candy store. It was obvious that everyone onstage was having a blast and that resonated out to the audience.
But while Rudimental’s dancing caught my eye, it did not compare once Kiesza’s performance began. From the instant she stepped onstage, her sense of relatability to the audience was indisputable. It was nice to see her quickly engaging with people in the crowd and having that warmth returned back to her. And then things got real serious when Kiesza removed her jacket, became alone onstage, and delivered a shiver-inducing rendition of “Sound of a Woman” from her album of the same name. The serious moment ended when Kiesza’s dancers became armed with bubble guns and she lit up her mic stand. And when this mic stand was glowing red during “Over Myself,” it was amazing to see her adoring fans in the audience also change their glow sticks to red. Kiesza closed her stellar set with her hit single, “Hideaway,” to colossal cheering.
The end of Kiesza’s set brought forth The Neighbourhood who went onstage at a perfect (not late at all) 10:50 pm. Lead vocalist Jesse Rutherford stated that the band would only be in New York for their give or take 40 minute performance so they got straight to business. With a backdrop of black and white static playing behind them, The Nbhd’s set started off with “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh).” The audience naturally moved even closer to the stage, making use of every possible open square inch while singing every word to The Nbhd’s songs. I was pleasantly surprised to hear my personal favorite, “Jealou$y,” mostly because I think it sounds like Sexy Sax Man. What fans have named “sexophone” in this track is just the best.
Pandora chose the perfect set of artists for their holiday concert because each act was completely on point with their performances. With concert-goers parading around in their blue Pillsbury beanies and colorful glow sticks, the holiday concert was overall a really chill and enjoyable experience. Just a bit of advice for next time Pandora, maybe invite Ryan Gosling to introduce the acts? And then introduce him to me? Just saying.