This past Thursday, Dec. 1, 96X hosted Winter Meltdown at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. The lineup consisted of Days Difference, Young the Giant, Taking Back Sunday, Sleeper Agent, Foster the People, Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, Cake, The Naked and Famous, and Bush. The Center itself was very similar to the RBC Center. The bands were separated between two stages; the main one was on the coliseum floor and the other was in one of the larger rooms of to the side.
Opening up on the smaller stage was Days Difference, a local band from Virginia Beach. Their upbeat and energetic sounds set the tone for the rest of the evening. This concert was our first encounter with the band, but both the band and the crowd seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Following their performance, the crowds moved back to the main room for Young the Giant. They made their entrance on the main stage with “My Apartment,” kicking off their five-song setlist. They followed this up with the lead vocalist and drummer starting “I Got” in an acapella fashion. Sameer Gadhia looked like he was having a good time as he jumped back and forth between his dual microphones and smashed the crash cymbal with his tambourine. They also added a new song into their set which was received well. They ended their set with everyone screaming along (including us) to “My Body.”
Taking Back Sunday was on the main stage with their original lineup and was better than ever. You could tell that they were enjoying themselves with the original five back up on stage. In the spirit of the evening, they opened up with their rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” before exploding into the song “El Paso.” They played some songs off their new self-titled effort and returned to some classics like “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)” and “A Decade Under the Influence.” When talking to people in between sets, many were most excited about Taking Back Sunday and they did not seem to be let down at all.
After them, it was time to head back to the smaller room for Sleeper Agent (who referred to it as the ‘cool room’). The first couple songs had a bit of a feedback issue, but once that was fixed, they sounded great. After playing “Get It Daddy,” Tony Smith remarked on how awesome it was that people knew their songs well enough to sing along.
Moving back to the main stage, Foster the People was ready to go on. As the lights rose, they began a drum circle which led into “Call It What You Want.” It turns out the weird laughs in “Don’t Stop” are done by Mark Foster himself. The band could not stop dancing throughout their set and I don’t think there was a single person in the room who did not at least tap their foot. They finished up with their signature “Pumped Up Kicks.” Even though they lengthened the song by adding choruses for the crowd to sing along, their set seemed to end way too soon.
After Foster’s set, it was time to head back to the smaller stage for Grouplove. They strutted onto stage to some hip-hop before playing “Love Will Save Your Soul.” We had never heard of Grouplove before, but we got a hold of their album when we found out we would be going to the show and have not put it down yet. Christian Zucconi was sporting an awesome sweater, as the picture shows. They finished up with “Tongue Tied,” and the crowd sang with them until the very end.
When they finished their set we moved back to main stage for a brief statement about Wounded Warrior, a program that helps injured veterans. A few minutes later, the lights dimmed and we could barely make out Cage the Elephant making their way on stage. The lights came on as they started to play “In One Ear.” If you’ve seen Cage the Elephant before you’ll know that Matt Shultz likes to mess around with the timing of his lyrics. This was quite true during “Around My Head,” when he paused for a solid 30 seconds after the first chorus (before “Do youuuuuuuu”). They finished up with “Sabertooth Tiger,” during which Matt stood on the crowd and then convulsed on the stage. They were by far the most energetic band there. Although the venue was huge, they made it seem small as Matt made the six-foot leap into the crowd several times.
After a few minutes of set up, Cake came out on stage and immediately started playing “The Distance,” as the crowd roared with approval. They played a few old songs before switching over to new material. As John McCrea stated, the new music was a bit angrier than stuff they did before, and jokingly told easily offended people to leave. They finished up with “Sick of You.”
The Naked and Famous began in the smaller room. Since it was later in the night, this room reached maximum capacity quickly, and people were out in the hall trying to get a listen. They put on a great energetic show, and the crowd got into it as well. Everyone sang along to their songs like “Punching in a Dream” and “All of This.” Their show ended all too soon as it was time to move out to the main room for Bush.
It took a while to pile out of the room from the Naked and Famous and we made it in about halfway through the first song of their set. At this point the entire stage had opened up and the lights and fog machines were running on high. Everyone seemed excited to see them as it was their first string of shows in nine years. They played some classics that everyone sang along to as well as some new material from their latest output The Sea of Memories.
Eventually the show came to an end. It was then that we realized how hungry and tired of standing we were. We had been listening to great music non-stop for seven hours. It’s amazing to think that none of the 10 bands put on a bad show and most of them have been in heavy rotation in our CD players. It was definitely worth the six-hour round-trip drive and terrible 1 a.m. McDonald’s food.
-DJ Dewey Decibel and DJ DiGiorno