Fueled By Ramen started out as a small record label in 1996 coming out of central Florida. Started by two friends who wanted a place to put out independent rock music, it has evolved over that time to be almost a brand name. A place for punk inspired pop bands to call home. To celebrate 15 years FBR had put together a 3 night stint of music at Terminal 5. I was able to catch the final night, Friday 9/9/11, and the lineup was an exciting one.
First up was Florida’s VersaEmerge. They took the stage at a really early 6:30 and played a blistering 20 min set. Led by the not even 21 year old vocal dynamo Sierra Kusterbeck, they got the crowed moving right off the bat. Kusterbeck is a whirl of hair and energy, never staying in once place for more than one second. I would be lying if I said I was really familiar with their songs, because I am not, but I can say that considering I didn’t recognize most of what they were playing, they kept my rapt attention. That isn’t easy to do. It’s hard to take your eyes off of Sierra while she is singing, and her voice is fantastic. The band behind her sounded super tight, and they all looked thrilled to be playing.The set was filled with hits like “Figured it Out.” They closed out their set with their hit “Fixed at Zero” and the whole place went absolutely crazy. Before that song Sierra told the crowd that it would be their last song, and last show of the year because they were working on a new album. This was met with thunderous applause.
A Rocket to the Moon took the stage next for another 20 min, too short set. Young, energetic, led by Nick Santino, they are another band whose music I had not really heard much of before seeing them play. But like VersaEmerge, seeing them play made me want to run out and listen to everything I could find. Santino really has a great voice and he is pretty fantastic on stage, clearly comfortable there. He spoke of being in HS sending out press kits to a bunch of labels and only having Fueled By Ramen respond. He said that he knew that he didn’t want to go to college, and that “Fueled By Ramen was his college.” Santino had strong pipes, which he exercised during most of their set. For a couple songs he broke out the acoustic guitar and his vocals became almost delicate. You could feel the energy in the crowd, and a lot of the kids there knew every word. At the end of their second song they played a bit of “Take It Easy” by The Eagles. Most people there were probably too young to even know who the Eagles are, but I liked that personally. A little touch of their influences, in the open.
Third band up was The Academy Is… It is safe to say that the energy definitely changed when they came on, clearly Terminal 5 was packed with TAI fans. The band took the stage first to cheers but when singer William Beckett stepped out the place exploded. Filled with more swagger than most people can even contain, he is a confident and fantastic front man. They opened with “Attention, Attention” and every single person sang every word. Next they played another song everyone knew, “Season.’ By th e third song, “Slow Down” I realized all these songs were from the album, “Almost Here.” 5 years ago when that album came out I played it non stop. They played every song from it, front to back, which was both fantastic and perplexing. It is filled with hits and every word was sang back to Beckett from the crowd, but it is also weird that they didn’t play anything from their other 2 albums.
That being said, the set was fantastic. Hearing all those songs again back to back reminded me of where I was in my life when that came out, which is one of the magically things about music. Gabe Saporta joined The Academy Is onstage to help out at the end of “Classifieds” and they sounded great together.
Gym Class Heroes were definitely a crowd favorite, it was easy to see with all the ‘Kiss me Travie’ signs throughout. I was excited to see them too and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Travie McCoy is an excellent front man, filled with energy and talent. He commanded and moved around every inch of that stage while his band rocked out all around him. It is interesting to see them play live. The band is super tight and it is not often that you hear what is basically rap backed by a live band. McCoy talked and kept the banter up between songs, telling the audience little snippets of their history.
Their set included their biggest songs from all 3 of their albums. Songs like “Cupid’s Chokehold” and McCoy’s solo song “Billionaire” made the crowd erupt into deafening screams. The announcement was made that the next GCH was going to be out October 25 of this year with a tour to follow was welcomed news to a packed crowd. The included a hit from the forthcoming album, “Stereo Hearts” and it really sounded fantastic live.
Last up on this power packed line up was headlining Cobra Starship. Like Travis McCoy, there was no shortage of signs for singer Gabe Saporta. Former singer and bassist for the now defunct fan favorite Midtown, he came on to the stage and owned it He stepped out, spit a mouth full of water straight up and didn’t stop moving for the next hour. Cobra Starship is almost dance rock, and dance everyone certainly did. The band sounded amazing, and the beautiful Keytarist Victoria Asher was playful with Saporta all night. Definitely great chemistry between the two of them.
Filled with hits their set kept everyone moving. “Hot Mess”, “The Church of Hot Addiction”, Don’t Blame The World It’s the DJ’s Fault” and “The World has Lost It’s Shine” were some of the songs played that kept everyone singing along. They played a new hit, “You Make Me Feel” which features Sabi, and she joined them on stage for this one. The biggest thrill of the night was their last song, the one that started it all. “Snakes On A Plane” features Beckett from The Academy Is and Travie McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, and they joined Cobra on stage for this hit. Definitely ended the night on a high.
The show was pretty great and it really felt like a family. Walking around you would see members of Cobra Starship, A Rocket To The Moon and The Academy Is standing around chatting with fans and friends. Sierra from VersaEmerge held court in the hallway for a long time talking to everyone, signing everything, taking pictures and just making everyone feel special. I even talked to her for a bit myself and she was super nice and just seemed thrilled that people care about what she has to say. I don’t think anyone in that building felt like they didn’t get their money’s worth with the lineup. Walking out of the venue “Never Gonna Give You Up” played and it was almost like FBR was giving everyone a little message. Can’t wait to see what they will do for their 20th anniversary.
All photos by Keeyahtay Lewis (DeadBoltPhotos.com
GYM CLASS HEROES