A Normal Night at the NorVa?
The unexpected is always waiting at a concert in Virginia.
X Ambassadors are from Norfolk?!
On the streets of downtown Norfolk, Nov. 28, the Norva once again harbored Hampton Roads citizens who were ready for a show by X Ambassadors. On their VHS 2.0 Tour, the rock band is highly anticipated in every part of the country from San Francisco, C.A. to Tampa, F.L. They are a highlight for the Winter Meltdown Concert Series sponsored by 96x. Although it was one of the many stops for them, Norfolk and X Ambassadors have a special relationship. They were discovered here by Dan Reynolds, lead vocalist of Imagine Dragons. The story is one that keeps X Ambassadors coming back to show love to the city that launched their careers. As lead vocalist Sam Harris said at the concert: “This city has been with us since the very, very, very beginning.”
Fangirling… thoughtful fangirling.
V.A. Beach local, Quinn Ricks was at the concert with some friends and family. She had been waiting for the concert since the beginning of November when she looked up bands like Oh, Wonder and X Ambassadors and found that they were coming to the NorVa the 28th. This was her first time seeing X Ambassadors live and it expanded her appreciation for them.
“I like seeing artists live because listening to their recorded music afterwards makes it better,” Ricks said. “I think it’s because you see their personalities on stage, almost like you learn more about them and then you hear them in recorded music and it’s just better.”
Quinn knows the VHS album as well as their first EP “Ambassadors” and showed admiration for the growth they have gone through as a band. She said that the first EP was all “romantic style songs” but as they kept writing they got more creative with their lyrics. They expanded to covering not only romance within their songs but other things like ‘I get nervous when I’m happy’ she stated, quoting “Nervous,” a track off their newest album. She said she would love to see Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors in concert together, but at the same time, she respected Welshly Arms for the great performance they did and how they warmed up the crowd. “I thought [the two opening acts] were really good because they matched the genre of X Ambassadors.”
To the opening acts: welcome to Norfolk!
The NorVa is a venue that many locals are familiar with, which makes it a great place for avid concert attendees to discover openers they might not know. First up to kick off the night were The Aces, hailing from Provo, Utah. The indie pop band is comprised of four girls; Cristal, McKenna, Katie, and Alisa. With retro themed outfits and a positive feel resonating from their music, their sound was perfect to get the crowd jumping. They satisfied the unspoken requirement of asking, “Is your city really pronounced Nor-Fook…?” and bounced back with a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Following them was Welshly Arms, who wasted no time plunging into their set as soon as they were in place. Sam, Brett, Jimmy, Mikey, Bri, and Jon, form a rock ‘n’ roll band with a soulful twist. The gruff voice of Sam between songs could be mistaken for a southern Baptist preacher; the keyboardist Brett played organ style melodies on select songs; and the gospel vibe set off by Bri and Jon’s backup vocals kept the band in an intriguing niche. The audience wanted more with every passing song. Music from The Aces and Welshly Arms can both be found on Spotify, and they can be followed on major social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram.
Just a wedding. You know, whatever…
There are many things that are worth mentioning about the concert, from the vinyl of Welshly Arm’s “Covers” EP to X Ambassadors’ Casey Harris and his wild dance moves at the piano. However, there is one thing that must be mentioned that stood out about this concert: the wedding. As announced, the NorVa opened the doors at 6:30. Everyone in line had entered by 6:55. At 7, an announcement was made that a wedding would be taking place in the next 10 minutes. Before the crowd could register whether it was a joke or not, a young man walked onto stage in a tuxedo. Close behind was his best man and a bridesmaid, followed by the beautiful bride in all white—once on stage, the wedding ceremony was in full swing. Camera flashes mingled with oo-ing and aw-ing as the audience took in what was probably the first rock ‘n’ roll wedding they’ve ever seen. The newlyweds, Micah and Blair, set the bar high for the excitement of the night and, to the audience’s pleasure, that bar was met and surpassed by X Ambassadors and the opening acts.
X Ambassadors will return… with new music!
Whether you were married that night or too drunk to remember you’re in a relationship (both of which were in the audience), if you were at the X Ambassadors concert, you were guaranteed great time. The wedding was adorable, The Aces were energetic, the blues-rock of Welshly Arms threw us a welcome curve-ball, and X Ambassadors hit it out of the park. Sam Harris’ stunning voice and charismatic speech about uniqueness and individuality before playing “Renegades” touched our souls. His ability to command the stage and make eye contact with specific audience members as if they were the only ones in the room made the concert special to those even in the very back. That being said, they did play new material that will be on the album dropping next year, and I’m sure Norfolk will be waiting for them when they come back.
Joél Casanova is a Staff Writer for The Daily Runner.