Clive Davis first-year Jackson Craig graced the Mercury Lounge stage on Wednesday, Feb. 12 clad in a fuzzy orange jacket and red-tinted John Lennon glasses. It was very fourth-grade-Halloween of him, and it absolutely worked.
Craig brought a full band with him — a shift from his online recordings, which are largely gentle, acoustic and solo. The tight-knit band grooved right along with him. With his G&L mid-90s electric guitar in cherry red, the group started their set on an upbeat note with “Her Eyes on the Horizon.” Craig’s vocals were smooth, and the energy poured off the stage in waves. Lyrics like “I thought that I could play the artist / Never truly done” and “She keeps her eyes on the horizon / but I’ve been keepin my eyes right on her” felt more expressive after seeing Craig sing them live.
For the second song, Craig slowed things down and introduced his band during an interlude. He concluded his introduction with a confident but cool line: “I like to sing so please, sit back and let me do my thing.”
And sing, he did. Craig’s performance felt like a jazzy Weezer at times, with a bit of a reggae beat consistently throughout, but altogether very feel-good and chilled out. Sweet lyrics like “the fastest way to you is still too long” and easy listening songs transformed into jam sessions made the performance special and dynamic. Kate Kearns, an accompanying vocalist, joined Craig for a song or two and her voice worked well with his sound in particular.
“Bumble,” a song off “Secrets at the Bottom of the Pool” that sounds rather smooth and chill on the recording, transmitted a much higher energy live. While it still had that element of bliss, the intensity was so much greater. Shifts like these were subtle, but worked magnificently. There was an undercurrent of energy that kept the crowd engaged, but it was never overwhelming.
Craig ended the performance with a “brand-spanking new” song called “Big Dog.” Though the single was unreleased, the crowd of fans knew enough of the words from previous live performances to sing along. It was a heartwarming finale for the night.
“It feels great,” Craig told WSN after his performance. “I’m super happy for the opportunity. I love looking out and all of our friends are in the front row and people are jamming.”
Email Izzy Salas at [email protected]