Hipsters and emos in their mid-20s flooded the Bowery Ballroom on Feb. 21 to see the Into It. Over It. show.
Evan Weiss, the mastermind behind the Chicago-based outfit, played his distinct brand of indie/emo music to a sold-out crowd of hip young people, vacantly staring with their arms crossed, wearing flannels and Chuck Taylors.
But when Weiss took the stage, even the most stone-faced emo fans found a place to stash their jackets and the record they bought at the merchandise table to join the mosh pit.
Beginning with “Anchor” from the 2009 project “52 Weeks,” for which Weiss recorded one song each week for a year, the artist immediately established his live show as one that had a passion, energy and life that his soft, acoustic, studio-recorded songs occasionally lack.
Sometimes embracing the singer-songwriter genre, at other times hardcore pop-punk, Weiss dynamically powered through 22 songs.
From the folksy, ethereal “Where Your Nights Often End” to the energetic “Fortunate Friends,” Weiss reminded concertgoers that the term “emo” originally meant “emotional,” and has little to do with the swoopy-haired, guyliner persona it came to mean in the mid-2000s.
For example, take the heart-meltingly sweet story Weiss told before playing “Next Stop: The Olympics.” On a first date, he went ice-skating at Rockefeller Center and kissed his date under the Christmas tree. That is “emo” by its true definition.
Halfway through the set, Weiss hushed the crowd to give a shout-out to his friend and singer-songwriter Kevin Devine, who sat in the balcony with his wife. The couple had recently married and Weiss took the time to publicly ask about their wedding.
“It was at a loft space in Greenpoint with ice cream sandwiches for cake,” Weiss said, further establishing the hipster vibe of the night.
Later, Weiss played a song about his cat and the hipster vibe blew the roof off the building.
But Weiss, with his buffalo-checked flannel and wood-grain patterned guitar, was thoroughly unaware of the caricature he fit so well, rendering his authenticity endearing.
Wrapping up with the catchy “Midnight: Carroll Street,” Weiss and his band proved their prowess as subtle yet passionate musicians before returning for a two-song encore.
Mirroring the minimal approach to stage decor and flowery banter, Weiss ended the set the same way he began it — by leaning into the microphone and saying, bashfully, “My name is Evan and this is Into It. Over It.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 25 print edition. Alyssa Buffenstein is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]