Not So Silent Night Alternative Music Festival returned to New York City on December 5, 2019, to a sold-out show filled with thrilling music and even more impressive performances. With such a great lineup, there was something for everyone eager to see some of the best bands in Alternative music. Not So Silent Night was the perfect event to bring holiday cheer to all while celebrating the joys of the season.
Straight off their recent collaboration with Steve Aoki and Sting, SHAED lit up the night with their singles “Thunder“, “Melt” and “Trampoline“, (which hit number one on the U.S. Alternative charts). Lead vocalist Chelsea Lee’s soulful voice reverberated through the Barclays Center as her bandmates played along with their electronic instruments. Lee shared with the audience how her bandmates gave her the strength to get through tough times, and through writing songs helped her with the process of healing. SHAED’s music felt soothing and gently eased us into the night.
Perhaps the most fun-loving band I’ve ever seen, Judah & the Lion performed their hits” Over My Head”, “Alright” and “Take it All Back” (certified platinum). Their versatility spanning Folk, Rock, and Americana was evident as they inspired the crowd with their covers of “All the Small Things” by Blink-182 and “Rock and Roll” (Part 1 & 2) by Gary Glitter. Lead singer Judah Akers joked that he didn’t think anyone would “know who they were”. Perhaps he had this sentiment as the bill was so extraordinary. They came into this Not So Silent Night celebration adding to this night of wonders.
Of Monsters and Men spun their Indie Folk magic as they performed, providing great sounding tones, lovely lyrics, and perfect harmony in all their songs. Veterans that are comfortable in their own skin, this Icelandic group brought the night alive as they performed “Crystals” and “Wars“, which seemed appropriate for the holiday season. Spreading their message of love by ending their set with their hit “Little Talks“, I noticed their incredible style and skillful gestures which made them stand out in a crowd of distinguished artists.
The lead singer and guitarist of Jimmy Eat World, Jim Adkins, was like a siren pumping out his feelings with a great voice that just blew me away. As he sang “Love Never“, he broke my heart and I wondered maybe his heart was broken too. Jimmy Eat World kept rocking the night away and played their new single “555“. Then, almost on key, they played “Last Christmas” by Wham! adding to the festivities. Singing his lullaby of an opportunity lost, Jim Adkins’ sensitive delivery of “Hear You Me” touched my soul. Closing out their set with “Sweetness” and “The Middle“, Jimmy Eat World reaffirmed their Rock legacy.
Cage the Elephant were the breakout stars of the night as they paraded in with their entertaining prose, music and their performance art style stage presence. The lead vocalist, Matt Shultz, was on a roll and went to his zone of comfort, which was for him, theatrical. When they played their hit “There ain’t no Rest for the Wicked“, it seemed clear that this was a moniker for the band since they mustered all their strength as they pushed the limits of performance to the max. Their heart wrenching live performance of “Cigarette Daydreams” made me cry. “Shake Me Down” summed up their approach to life and their approach to music that seemed to cast a ray of energy onto all who heard it. Cage the elephant showed us all what the true meaning of living is.
Vampire Weekend blazed in with “White Sky” that had a Worldbeat feel. The tenderhearted play of their chords along with their calculated riffs as they stroked their guitars was mesmerizing. These arrangements held us with an upbeat and cheerful progression. Providing harmony and melody that’s fun to groove to, in “Bambina” for example, Ezra Koenig‘s voice had a sympathetic quality. Appealing to the Tri-State area crowd, their playful guitar engagement included jazzy segments and a guitar solo. “Harmony Hall“‘s honesty and brevity were balanced with the piano and guitar duet which were symphonic leaving the crowd in a happy place.
As if this show wasn’t impressive enough, the next act was Mumford and Sons! During their entire performance the crowd was jumping up and down, clapping, and singing along with their songs. The person next to me said “I’ve been looking forward to this all year”. I looked over and thought this was the perfect ending to an outstanding music festival that just kept giving so many great moments that I lost count.