Thursday, December 4, 2014

Relient K at the Gramercy Theatre

Matt Thiessen
Vocalist/guitarist Matt Thiessen and guitarist Matt Hoopes formed Relient K in 1998, their junior year in high school in Canton, Ohio. They named their pop rock band after Hoopes' automobile, a Plymouth Reliant K car, with the spelling intentionally altered to avoid trademark infringement over the Reliant name. The band released three studio albums in the Christian rock and punk market before hitting the mainstream in 2004 with MmHmm, which featured the crossover singles "Be My Escape" and "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been." Relient K has released nine studio albums, the most recent being 2013's Collapsible Lung.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Relient K celebrated the 10th anniversary of MmHmm by keeping the set list simple. The band performed the 14 songs from the album in order, walked off the stage and then returned for an eight-song encore drawing from five other albums and a forthcoming album. The set sparkled with the band's wry wit in songs like "The Only Thing Worse Than Beating a Dead Horse Is Betting on One" and "Which to Bury, Us or the Hatchet," with tongue-in-cheek lyrics that had little to do with the titles. While there was always something amusing in the lyrics and the performance, the band demonstrated a more serious side as well with "More Than Useless" and "Let It All Out," and closing the main set with the emotional "When I Go Down," featuring vulnerable lyrics pondering an internal struggle with sin and reconciliation with God. The audience got it; the fans bounced, cheered and sang along to virtually every song. The revelry continued through encores that began with "Sadie Hawkins Dance," during which Robin (as in Batman and Robin) danced on stage and then dove into the audience for a bit of crowd surfing. Oddly, the band ended the concert by walking off stage to a blasting "Turn Down for What" by DJ Snake and Lil Jon, turning the wholesome Christian audience into ravers. As they exited the theater, many in the audience sang along to that hip hop standard as well.

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