Live Review: The Script with Hot Chelle Rae at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC – 1st September 2011

By on Friday, 9th September 2011 at 2:00 pm

Bands that play at DAR Constitution Hall are a big deal. They don’t play this massive venue, a mere stone’s throw from the Capitol building, because they sold only a couple thousand records. This is the big time. So last Thursday, I was lucky enough to get the call to cover the Script playing a gig there, rescheduled from a previous date from June that was postponed due to illness. This was the first gig that I have covered whilst standing atop an unsheltered platform with no railing. I’m afraid of heights, so my stomach was in knots. As as I looked down, I saw all the thousands of fans below me looking like ants, and then when I switched to look forward, the gigantic hanging speakers were in front of me. And this was when I realised I had forgotten my earplugs. (Stupid. I did manage to get them later before I had to scramble onto this platform again for the headliner.) It was too late to do anything though: Hot Chelle Rae came onstage to thunderous applause.

I don’t think HCR has gotten much press in the UK, but I imagine the time for that is coming very soon. They’re signed to Jive Records in America, which pretty much indicates their target fanbase (Backstreet Boys were a flagship signing back in the ’90s, to give you some perspective). Their songs are mainstream and get played on top 40 radio stations here. (See: ‘Tonight, Tonight’, their cover of Katy Perry‘s ‘Teenage Dream’.) Not really my thing, but I have to admit some of their songs are really catchy, just a bit devoid of heart. The Script made a wise decision in choosing them for support; maybe it’s just because I don’t go to a lot of shows where the majority of punters are preteen or teen and the next biggest thing on their mind is the Jonas Brothers, but there was a level of adorableness watching girls frantically searching for guitar picks in the dark being thrown by guys with tattoos up and down their arms.

But I was there for the Script. Having seen them once before in a club atmosphere last November, I wanted to see how they would adapt to an auditorium-type venue. I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, all shows at Constitution Hall are massive and grand, but when you’ve made it to that stage and can sell thousands of tickets for a show, you’ve earned the right to put on a show like this. Lasers, all types of coloured lighting and a Jumbotron-like screen on the back of the stage to benefit the people sitting far up and very far away are all part and parcel of these kinds of shows.

A drawback to a large show is that often, the band loses the interaction and intimacy possible in smaller venues; however, singer/piano man Danny O’Donoghue took what he was given and made even the huge hall seem smaller, starting up singalongs and making the audience scream and laugh. Sometimes at the same time. While they played their first single ever, ‘We Cry’, O’Donoghue jumped into the crowd during the extended outro, and sticking his microphone in front of various fans and imploring them to sing with him: there were some cringe-worthy moments to be had, as it was made abundantly clear that some of the Script’s fans are tone-deaf. (Ouch.)

But that’s okay. I’m sure each and every one of those fans at that very moment they shared with their favourite band, that was a moment they would remember forever. When they played ‘Breakeven’ and left the stage before the encore, I was stunned. What can they play to top that, I asked myself. The answer came back as a percussion-led version of ‘This = Love’, followed by their most recent and mega single ‘For the First Time’. Brilliant. They have two albums’ worth of material, it would have been lovely to hear far more than we did. But for what time we did have with the Script, it was perfect. My own regret is that I’m sure the next time they come to town, they’ll be playing outdoor stadiums.

After the cut: setlists and more photos.

Hot Chelle Rae Set List
Beautiful Things
I Like to Dance
The Distance
Teenage Dream
Tonight, Tonight

Hot Chelle Rae Photos:

The Script Set List
You Won’t Feel a Thing
Talk You Down
We Cry
The Man Who Can’t Be Moved
If You Ever Come Back
Before the Worst
The End Where I Begin
Science & Faith
Dead Man Walking
Rusty Halo
This = Love
For the First Time

The Script Photos:

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