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JR JR perform in their neon jackets. Credit: Mason Swires | Lantern reporter

Concert review: JR JR delivers emotionally charged set

This Wednesday, electronic indie band JR JR visited A&R Music Bar, bringing their lovable quirkiness and soulful harmonics with them.

The band jumped right into the set with some new stuff from their latest self-titled album. “James Dean,” was among the songs from their newest album played and is, dare I say, the most chilled-out song I have ever heard.

They also played some stuff from their previous album, “The Speed of Things,” like the fun and vibrant song “Run” with its catchy, harmonized chorus of loud multi-pitched chants.  

All of JR JR’s music is heavy on the synthesizer but infuses some pretty uncommon guitar parts from Joshua Epstein, accompanied by Daniel Zott’s extraordinary vocal range that adds an essential layer of life to their songs. Zott’s head of long, curly hair flying around the venue is pretty amazing to watch silhouetted against the giant “JR” sign covered in LED light bulbs that strobed along to whatever the beat of the song is.

A few songs into the set, Epstein began to talk about some new technology regarding printable pictures from the venue if you used a hashtag for their tour, but was quickly derailed by the dull roar of fans teeming with excitement. People were jumping around and yelling for their favorite band.

In an attempt to assist Epstein in being heard and keeping the show going, one fan yelled for the crowd to quiet down — only in much more colorful language. Epstein, taking things out of context, thought the fan was directing his shushing toward him and quickly became irate with the entire crowd. He even began to tell the fan to leave the show in a completely serious and uncalled for manner.

The show went on with a few more songs like “Simple Girl,” which was the first the two had ever written together, and “Morning Thought,” a medium tempo song that got the crowd bobbing their heads and swaying along again.

But when one crowd member that was clearly a big fan but had just had a little too much to drink yelled for a specific song, Epstein once again lost his cool and began to rant about how he was, “up there playing his heart out for a crowd that doesn’t care,” which was completely untrue.

Honestly it was one of the poorest examples of good conduct between a band frontman and the audience that I have ever witnessed at a concert. It seemed that Epstein was just permanently angry throughout the show and kind of just went through the motions for the remainder of the main set.

Daniel Zott silhouetted against the JR JR backdrop while playing keyboard. Credit: Mason Swires | Lantern reporter

Daniel Zott silhouetted against the JR JR backdrop while playing keyboard. Credit: Mason Swires | Lantern reporter

Zott however, is one of the most friendly, passionate musicians I have ever come into contact with. His genuine love for the music is evident in his animated hopping across the stage and body language as he plays through a song. Controlling at least half of the mixes on his keyboard and still managing to belt out some crazy vocal ranges is a talent indeed.

But he also knows how to interact with the crowd. At one point, when the band came back out from their break dressed in their checkered blazers that were hand painted to be neon in the blacklights, Zott dropped down from the stage and into the crowd to dance with the writhing mass of adoring fans.

Their final songs included old and new popular songs like “Nothing But Our Love” from their album “It’s A Corporate World” and “Gone” from their latest self-titled album. The choice to have these songs last was understandable. The former song is a little mellower but really heavy on the lyrics and vocals, the synth just compliments the breaks between the verses in a catchy loop of a blissful sounding torrent of keynotes. The latter is their newest popular song and includes a great whistling part that rivals the whistling part from the ending of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” The crowd went wild for the energy that the song brought and the atmosphere was electric in A&R.

Completely in character, Zott and the rest of the band thanked the crowd and bid us goodnight, while Epstein quickly ran off the stage, solidifying his childish behavior and promoting the fact that Joshua Epstein is not a people person. Being quick to anger and put down a crowd is definitely not a cool thing to do, Mr. Epstein, and should be something that I hope other crowds don’t experience.

Overall, JR JR delivered a great show; their music is an alternative anthem to those looking for a lively beat and a catchy chorus. Their talent is unmatched when it comes to instruments and musical ability. They can play pretty much anything and make it sound great live or on an album.

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