Show Review: Boyce Avenue

I entered The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA on a Thursday night to find a sold out room of eager fans awaiting the Sarasota, FL-based pop-rock band, Boyce Avenue.

In 2013, YouTube is one of the many platforms giving artists the audience and tools to catapult into stardom, and the brothers of Boyce Avenue–Alejandro, Daniel and Fabian Manzano–are one of the best examples of this trend.

With tens-of-millions of plays on any given video, the band is nothing short of a phenomenon, and their hard work online has clearly paid off in the physical world, too. Boyce Avenue has toured rigorously for years, developing a fanbase well beyond the internet. The band is now playing the same club and theater circuit of those they’ve once covered–and in some cases, finding more success than their predecessors.

Best of all, the Boyce Avenue is breaking any notion of a “YouTube cover band,” with legions of genuine fans selling out their shows and singing along to their dynamic and hook-laden original tunes.

The trio hadn’t played San Francisco in over a year, and their audience clearly missed them. At any point throughout the night, getting a clear view of the stage was a struggle, as it was constantly obstructed with fans eagerly snapping pics and taking video with cell phones and iPads.

Nevertheless, Boyce Avenue kicked out all of their token covers with conviction, putting their own spin on each. With the exception of a few mega crowd-pleasers (Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” and Bruno Mars’ “Locked out of Heaven”) the audience seemed to go equally nuts over the band’s original material as they did the well-known covers.

A standout for the evening was frontman Alejandro Manzano’s killer vocal performance. Manzano laid it down all night, nailing falsettos, screaming out anthemic choruses and keeping the attention of every pair of eyes in the at-capacity club during solo numbers.

The rest of the band did much more than simply backup the frontman, proving they were a rhythm section capable of giving whatever the song needed; whether it be simple accompaniment, or all-out rock and roll. Guitarist Fabian Manzano played some tasty melodic work using an E-bow, and bassist Daniel Manzano was locked in with drummer Jason Burrows for the entire set.

One of my favorite tunes of the night was a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” While it may have gone over the heads of some of the very young audience members, Boyce managed to translate the song with a certain spark that bridged any generational gap.

Clearly appreciative of their fans, Boyce Avenue thanked the crowd profusely and moved in to one of their final encores, and emotional rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” The crowd, a sea of phones and hands, sang along with every note as they captured video–which I’m sure ended up on YouTube the next morning.

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Tom Gilbert is a guitarist (and aspiring pedal steel player) living in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he’s not blogging for Acoustic Nation, eating Thai food or being obsessed with his dog, Tom does marketing and PR for music and audio companies with Mad Sun Marketing.

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