Fans carried both school backpacks and office briefcases into the Mercury Lounge on Houston Street last Wednesday in anticipation of Nightly’s early show. It was the first time the group was headlining in New York City.
The opening artist, Phangs, was flanked by screens that read “Emotionally Safe Zone” during his performances. Phangs — Jake Germany’s musical alias — complemented the message by telling the audience about the emotional space he was in while writing the new songs.
A fellow Nashville native, Phangs first filled the venue with intoxicating dream-pop, connecting with the audience through songs like “Good Now,” dedicated to his wife and newborn baby. His set slowly transitioned to more ballads and electro-pop, with songs like “I Forgot You,” that had the audience singing along to the chorus.
He finished the set on a warm note, with “Dry Eyes” and “Always Been U,” which are among his most popular songs. The latter has amassed over a million streams on Spotify and had the crowd throwing their bodies in accordance with the beat drops. Phangs ended by imploring the crowd to greet him after the show, asking each member of the audience to say hello before leaving. Personable and eclectic, he set the scene for what was to come.
Nightly then stormed the stage, using innovative lighting and deep bass to start with an air of mystery and anticipation. Their heartthrob demeanor, especially that of lead singer Jonathan Capeci, drew screams from the girls in the front row.
Middle-aged fans and teenagers alike reached toward the stage in the hope of touching Capeci, who is known to really come alive while performing. He took time to acknowledge what a momentous occasion it was for the band to headline their first New York show, a dream since the beginning of their musical careers.
Lead guitarist Joey Beretta performed with rock-star agility and fervor. Flipping his hair and maintaining eye contact with the crowd, the audience couldn’t help but dance with him to songs like “XO.” Beretta’s ability to slow things down and control the venue’s vibe left the audience in awe, especially during songs like “No Call, No Reply,” which was released in February.
Their sound can be summed up as ethereal with elements of contemporary radio, like when drummer Nicholas Sainato channels radio trap with his heavy use of hi-hats in fan-favorite songs like “Sleepless Nights.” Constantly switching things up, the band’s slower songs like “Phantom” even built up to a burst of energy, making the audience pulse with excitement.
Nightly concluded the night by playing a then-unreleased song, “Twenty Something,” which dropped two days later. The surprise was welcomed by the crowd. It swayed with thoughtfulness and serenity after experiencing the full range of emotions both Nightly and Phangs had to offer.
With summer on the horizon, Nightly and Phangs are must-adds to your playlist.
Email Aashna Agarwal at [email protected]