One of the things that you notice when you go to see Delta Rae perform live in concert is the band’s remarkable rapport. There’s nary a trace of rockstar ego or “me first” energy emanating from the stage during their shows; instead, the band gracefully alternates between four primary vocalists —siblings Ian, Eric and Brittany Holljes, as well as Elizabeth Hopkins— in a manner that’s exquisitely respectful to each other, and also intriguing to the audiences that see them.
Of course, everyone here at VH1 has been on Team Delta Rae ever since the group joined our You Oughta Know family back in October of last year. The You Oughta Know Live set they performed for us here in the building blew us away, but it wasn’t until we saw them bring the house down in front of a room of people who, quite frankly, didn’t know who they were before they took the stage at last November’s Live In The Vineyard festival that we truly recognized their power as a live act.
As good as their debut record, Catch The Fire, is, it doesn’t really give listeners an accurate sense of the percussive power of the band. The haunting, rattling chains of “Bottom Of The River” and booming bass drum beats of “Dance In The Graveyard” really came to life during the band’s show at New York City’s Irving Plaza last night, and brought a new sense of energy to the crowd that was, at times, a bit restless.
The band opened the show with the energetic “Morning Comes,” a hopeful anthem that resonates with anyone in the 99%. The band then transitioned into slightly more mellow territory for a few songs and the crowd, which had been riled up by the searing opening act ZZ Ward, began becoming a bit restless. The volume of chatter began rising over the course of a few songs from a minorly irritating pitch to a majorly distracting one, at which point Brittany “Hell Yes” Holljes interrupted the beginning of live staple “Whatcha Thinkin’ Bout Baby” to address the crowd.
Rather than take the tact of a comic that’s being heckled and get aggressive with the crowd, Brittany instead took a complimentary tone, thanking the crowd for taking time out of their busy lives to share a night with them. The vibe in the room shifted instantly, as the crowd’s attention was once again drawn away from gossiping with each other and back towards the stage. The band responded by upping their energy level, and the room reached a frenzied fever pitch during “Bottom Of The River” and their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
The evening’s standout moment, though, was seeing the crowd react to Elizabeth Hopkins’ raspy, powerhouse lead vocals during “If I Loved You,” the band’s newest single. The heartbreaking ballad about unrequited love is notable not just for the wildly expressive and emotive way that Hopkins delivers the lyrics, but in how the song itself flips the script a bit: Instead of featuring a protagonist that’s heartbroken after being dumped, the song is written from the perspective of the person actually doing the heartbreaking. Delta Rae was actually here at 1515 Broadway earlier this week, where they performed the (fingers crossed!) soon-to-be hit on Big Morning Buzz Live.
Delta Rae may have been snubbed by the Grammys this year, but there’s little doubt that Seymour Stein’s latest discovery is around to stay. Not just because they write and perform great material, but because they continue to work at establishing a connection with their audience. Witness this video of their encore last night, in which the band got off the stage, walked into the middle of the crowd and performed their song “Hey Hey Hey” acoustically (in the truest sense of the word). It’s the kind of moment that will give you the goosebumps, and make you a believer in the power of the band.
SET LIST: “Morning Comes” / “Holding On To Good” / “Cold Day In Heaven” / “Is Anyone Out There?” / “Forgive The Children We Once Were” / “Whatcha Thinkin’ ’Bout Baby” / “Unlike Any Other” / “Bottom Of The River” / “The Chain” (Fleetwood Mac Cover) / “If I Loved You” / “Fire” / “Dance In The Graveyards
ENCORE: “Hey Hey Hey (Acoustic)”
[Photo: Getty Images]