The annual Kissmas bash was held at The First Niagara Center on Monday night as the sold out crowd were treated to seven artists who are more of an up and coming type. Once again the folks from radio station Kiss 98.5 put together a winning lineup that the mostly teen crowd ate up.
Kicking off Kissmas Bash 2012 was current American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips. This reviewer has no idea why Phillip was the one to open the show. I would’ve happily sat through another couple songs. He moved the sold out crowd with his single, “Home”. His voice is powerful, and sounded wonderful in the arena speakers. I wasn’t a big American Idol watcher last season, but all I needed to hear was “Home” live to see what America saw in Phillip.
The second act up was Megan and Liz. The girls, twin sisters, were first spotted on youtube doing original songs they wrote, as well as cover songs with nothing but their voices and a guitar. They really got the young crowd pumped up and ready to go when they slowed it down and performed with just the guitar. Megan and Liz performed a beautiful cover of the song “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes. By the time they closed their set with their new single, “Bad For Me,” there wasn’t a single person in the crowd of screaming young girls not singing along and I’ll even admit that I sang along as well.
Owl City was the third act up, which also came as a surprise. They came out with a bang. Singer-Songwriter Adam Young, was all over the place in the best of ways. The crowd got to their feet for what might be Owl City’s biggest hit, “Fireflies”. Young was silent through the first chorus and let the crowd sing the words back to him. It was beautiful, one of those moments where you stop and realize how many people around you are being affected by the same thing you are right at that moment.
His latest single, “Shooting Star” was a major hit as was “It’s Always A Good Time” originally sung with singer Carly Rae Jepsen. The crowd ate it up (and so did I). He was truly fantastic onstage and I would’ve happily danced my way through another handful of songs.
Austin Mahone took to the stage next. I haven’t heard teen girls scream that loud for anyone other than perhaps Justin Bieber and the boys of One Direction. I’d almost bet half the girls in attendance were there for a glimpse at Austin Mahone. He, like Megan and Liz, got his start on youtube. Opening his set with his single “Say Something”, caught me a little by surprise as I was expecting him to close his set with it. He came out with a few back up dancers, making it all seem very Bieber-ish until he sat down at the edge of the stage with just his guitar. I may have melted a little bit as well several of the ladies in the audience. He started on guitar with his song “11:11” which I’d never heard until then and was pleasantly surprised, I know the young girls were loving the close up video shots they were getting of him on the jumbo screen. He did a cover of Jesse McCartney’s “Beautiful Soul” next which was another crowd pleaser. He sped it back up with “Shawty Shawty” which sounds a lot like a Justin Bieber hit.
Shortly after Mahone left the stage, Ed Sheeran finally made his appearance. The recently nominated for a Grammy (for his single A Team) star played his first ever show in Buffalo, New York, and while he only performed two songs (including one eleven minutes long) he blew the crowd away (including myself). He opened up his all too short set with the song “You Need Me” where he showed off his incredible vocal talent. I haven’t heard a man sing that fast and still be audible in a very, very long time.
What I truly love about Ed Sheeran is how unique his performances are. With the use of a loop pedal he is able to record a section of music played on the guitar and the loop pedal plays back the section repeatedly. He usually explains how the loop pedal works when he plays live but given the time limit he didn’t explain how he was able to make those sounds right in front of you which I was a bit disappointed since I really think it’s incredible. He literally made the sound of a snare drum by slapping his palm down on the guitar and it was breathtaking. Another attribute that is unique about Sheeran is how beautiful it is to watch him lose himself in his own music in the way that he closes his eyes, and how he dances around with no actual rhythm. He’s just losing himself in his music and it’s refreshing to see an artist who loves what they are doing as much as he does.
After “You Need Me” he asked the lighting technicians to dim the lights so that he could snap a photo of the crowd that he later sent to his Instagram account. He does this at every show as a way to document his experience, and it gives the fans the chance to see themselves from his perspective. He dove into his smash single “A Team” next as the crowd echoed the song with him. I had chills the entire time and I may or may not have cried like a baby. He kept the lights dark so the arena was lit up with nothing but cell phones and the blinking Santa hats from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s campaign. Ed literally stole the show as his incredible talent came to the forefront.
Up next, Boys Like Girls, came out with a strange but sparkling rendition of “White Christmas”. I’d forgotten how many hits Boys Like Girls have had on the radio until the show. They jumped from one song to the next, and the crowd loved them. The song that started it all for this band, “Hero/Heroine” was beautiful and went over extremely well with the predominant female crowd. I’d forgotten how beautiful vocalist Martin Johnson’s voice was as well. They were the only full band in attendance at Kissmas Bash but that didn’t stop them at all.
They clearly had a lot of fun on stage and so it was enjoyable to watch them. There was a bit of microphone trouble during their third song but the technicians quickly fixed that problem and the boys kept going like true stars. Their newest single, “Be Your Everything”, was another hit. The band’s performance was impeccable as this reviewer literally had goosebumps.
Halfway through “Life Of The Party”, Johnson called up a boy from the crowd named Tim to join the band on stage and gave him a memory of a lifetime. Johnson joked around with him, asking if he was the life of the party and asked for him to prove it so as Tim stood center stage in front of a sold out crowd and danced. The crowd imitated Tim’s dance moves and really it was amazing to be apart of it. Tim will surely never forget this moment.
Afterwards they jumped into “Two Is Better Than One” which is originally a duet with singer songwriter Taylor Swift. For the duet he had Megan from Megan and Liz come join him on stage. They had some serious chemistry going on and I wouldn’t be surprised if the two bands ended up coming out with a song together as their voices worked off one another’s quite well.
My only major disappointment with the Boys Like Girls set list is that they only played a teaser bit of their song “Thunder” which made me wanting more. They ended off their set with “Love Drunk” which had the whole crowd on their feet. Johnson had the crowd put away their cellphones and video cameras so that the crowd could live in the moment with them. I’ve never seen an artist do so before, but it definitely made the experience a little better.
Sean Kingston closed up the night which took me by surprise as I was expecting him to be one of the first few acts. I’d forgotten just how many singles Kingston has had since his career began. This was his second appearance at a Kissmas Bash in Buffalo and this performance was far superior to his first time. The crowd ate him up with his easy to dance to songs and especially when he called out his good friend Soulja Boy to join him on stage, which took the audience by surprise.
He performed hits like “Beautiful Girls”, “Fire Burning” and “Letting Go” which is originally a duet performed with Nicki Minaj. I wasn’t entirely sure why he had so many other people on stage with him that he never once introduced, but it seemed as though the group behind him continued to grow as the night progressed. Kingston’s appearance was more surprising that it was only last year he was involved in a horrific jet skiing accident that put him in intensive care with a variety of injuries but as anyone can see he made a full recovery. To see Kingston up there closing out the show enjoying himself was inspiring indeed.
All in all it was another successful Kissmas Bash for Kiss 98.5.
Special thanks to Lindsay Truesdell for allowing us to review and to Tracey Mancini for her much appreciated assistance as well.