REVIEW: Dan + Shay’s Pop-Country Act Takes New York

Country duo Dan + Shay came to NYC on Friday night to bring their Obsessed tour to Playstation Theater in the heart of Times Square, where if it wasn’t a sold out show, it was pretty damn close. I’ve been in this business for a while now and I have never seen an act pack that many people into Playstation Theater; normally the seats behind the soundboard are curtained off and it’s a standing room only crowd. Not on this tonight, however, as those seats were packed and it looked like there was not one empty seat in the house, including the GA and VIP areas. That speaks volumes not only to the rapid success of Dan + Shay, but also the massive popularity of country music, even in a place that is as far from country as it gets.

Country’s a bit of a new thing to me – I grew up on hard rock and heavy metal and that’s stayed with me through my 30 years – despite flirting with it a bit back in the 90’s, listening to some of the top artists of the decade – Brooks and DunnClint BlackDeana CarterFaith HillMartina McBride (who is touring in 2017) and Leann Rimes. I even dabbled with a little country in the early 2000’s with SHeDAISY and Sugarland, but many of the modern country acts are relative unknowns to me as I slowly get back into the genre while my musical tastes evolve with age, and Dan + Shay were actually the first country show I ever attended.

I first heard of Dan + Shay thanks to their work on Lindsey Stirling’s new album Brave Enough, where they were featured on the song Those Days, and that led me to check out their music. Dan + Shay’s rapid rise despite only having released two albums – 2014’s Where It All Began and this year’s Obsessed – should come as no surprise to anyone who has listened to then for more than a song or two.

So there I was, a metalhead at a country show on a Friday night in the center of the free world, not knowing what to expect at the first country show I’d ever been to. Dan + Shay kicked the whole thing off with the upbeat All Nighter, which also leads off their new album before doing Nothin’ Like You and Stop Drop + Roll from 2014’a effort. I’ll jump around a little bit now because there were a few covers on offer, and I’ll discuss those together later. Continuing with their own tunes, we were treated to Road Trippin’, Show You Off, What You Do To Me and Lipstick before Dan + Shay slowed it down quite a bit with From The Ground Up.

It should be noted that even though they’re ballad singers, Dan + Shay have no shortage of chops and can hang with even the best of rockers, as evidenced on their covers throughout the night. Those covers included the guys rocking the ever-loving shit out of the Bon Jovi anthem You Give Love A Bad Name and the always fun Mr. Brightside by The Killers, which including both Dan and Shay jumping into the pit and standing on the barricade holding up microphones so the crowd could join in. In addition to two solid covers of rock songs that everyone seems to do, but so few get right, they also turned in a stellar performance of Cee Lo Green’s Forget You, turning the rapper’s biggest hit into country-rock song worthy of being recorded. Add to that a rendition of Rascall Flatt’s I Like The Sound of That, and Dan + Shay could put on a show entirely full of covers and still sell out the venue. Seriously, these guys are that good.

Rounding out the main set were Can’t Say No, Already ReadyLately and How Not ToDan + Shay would depart briefly, only to return with stools and play the title track from their second album, Obsessed, and then the aforementioned Cee Lo Green cover. All good things, however, must end eventually, and after 18 songs it was time to go home. But not without one last song, Dan + Shay’s big hit and the song they said is the reason they were even on that stage in NYC, 19 You + Me. And so the night ended with everyone in the house – myself included – singing along to a country song that put the duo on the map and sent them on their way to country music stardom.

I’ve seen a lot of shows, both as a fan and as media for both this and outlets I’ve worked with in the past, and I’ve covered close to 100 bands in the last 12 months. Some mid-level acts in club-type venues such as Playstation Theater, some megastars playing sold out arena and amphitheater shows, and some more than once in the span of a few months. Dan + Shay was our last show of 2016 here at Soundboard Magazine, and what a way to cap off our first 6 months. Dan + Shay made me a bigger fan than I was going in, and solidified country music’s place here at Soundboard Magazine.  Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney make country music fun, and also showed that they’re immensely talented musicians who can keep up with anyone in any genre.

If you think you don’t like country music, Dan + Shay will prove you wrong. You’ll have plenty of chances to see them, too, because they’ll be around for a long time, and we’ll be here to cover them and other country artists. In the meantime, check out our photo gallery below:

Dan Smyers of country duo Dan + Shay at Playstation Theater on the Obsessed tour