NYU Clive Davis sophomores Harry Teardrop and James Ivy opened for headliner Billy Lemos Friday night at Mercury Lounge, playing to a room packed with fans and friends.
James Ivy, whose real name is James Butler, set the tone for the night, his voice eliciting both offbeat expression and calm knowingness. His set quickly transitioned after the first songs from a folk-indie influence into a pop-punk/alternative hybrid.
Harry Teardrop, whose real name is Harrison Li, joined Ivy for a song before Ivy finished his set, a duo that had the crowd hooked. A very reactive performer, Ivy read the crowd well and interacted with them familiarly, his facial expressions changing with every lyric.
“His style is very different from what we hear today, where lyrics don’t mean anything to artists,” said Sofia Gutierrez, a GLS first-year and concert attendee. “If you speak about your own experience in your music, that’s especially powerful.”
Harry Teardrop followed, beginning his set with lo-fi pop-punk, flowing well from Ivy’s set. He began with a cover of The 1975’s “Robbers,” which the crowd very eagerly sang along to. The rest of his songs drew from classic punk, escalating two-thirds of the way through, building anticipation and compelling his audience to quiet.
“He really energized the crowd,” fellow Clive Davis first-year Anna Solasz said. Finding the weather outside to be brick and wishing his fans a happy Chinese New Year, Teardrop was a more conversational performer.
Long-awaited Billy Lemos’ performance style was a stark contrast to Ivy and Teardrop. Crouched on the floor of the stage in a variety of positions, his set was unlike anything I’d ever seen or heard.
While all three performers displayed vulnerability, Lemos’ was not simply verbal but physical as well. His large headphones were a barrier between him and the audience, his art the primary connection between him and them.
This was well represented in the way each member of the crowd seemed to interpret his music differently and personally, some dancing with the same vigor they had been previously, others conflicted and contemplating, deeply affected by his work.
Maintaining a level of dedication, Lemos’ devotion to his craft is a testament to his maturity, a trait that is rare but was extremely prevalent in Ivy, Teardrop and Lemos alike. With Teardrop’s new EP “1000 Backyard Pools” coming out soon and Lemos’ new song on the way, much is to come from these artists.
This event was the first of many put together by Nico Brunstein and Omar Ahmed, creators of Goons NYC, in an effort to create a local scene for indie artists, as well as promote their brand and reach a wider audience.
“The end goal is to basically go to Washington Square Park, start live sessions like NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk’ concert series and upload them to YouTube,” said Brunstein. “My problem with indie artists is when you look them up, you can’t find any live performances. When I look up an artist, I want to hear them live.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, print edition. Email Aashna Agarwal at [email protected].