REVIEW: Jack Johnson Plays Forest Hills

Okay, full disclosure: Jack Johnson is a bit more mellow than what we normally cover here at Soundboard Magazine. In fact, it’s a lot more mellow. Soft rock isn’t really our thing, but as our motto says: “No rules, just rock.” So since we make shit up as we go along here, we decided to check out Jack Johnson and his backing band over at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. For those unfamiliar – which is anyone outside NYC and probably most people in it – Forest Hills Stadium was a tennis stadium way back when, which has since been converted to a concert venue in the summer, complete with a vintage ice cream truck smack in the middle of the place and a host of amazing – yet overpriced – food.

This was the first we’d ventured out there, and it’s a nice little intimate space that is surprisingly perfect for a show like this. The chill atmosphere when Jack & co hit the stage just before 8 pm with the sun setting over the crowd made for a great vibe to go along with the soft rock the band belts out. But I digress a little, and we should probably get into the music and the actual show. The first thing I’ll say is that Jack Johnson plays forever. While we’re unable to confirm this show’s setlist at the time of this writing, Johnson played at least 25 songs, including a few covers.

A few of the tunes we can confirm were included in the set were Big SurI Got YouSitting, Waiting, WishingGood People and Better Together. Yeah, that’s not a lot when you consider the number of songs Johnson and his band played, but it’ll have to do until we can confirm the setlist. Until then, let’s talk about how good a soft rock show can be. As I mentioned at the top, we don’t really do soft rock here. It puts us to sleep, which is great at 3 in the morning after a few beers, but typically we bang heads and throw up horns here. Obviously, that business model only works to a certain extent – and we’ve covered pop, hip-hop and country music too – but this was really the first true soft rock show we’ve done, so it was a new experience for us.

That experience was one of the more eclectic shows we’ve been to, and it left us with a perspective we hadn’t seen before – people just chilling and enjoying a show. Normally, when we cover a show people are moshing, crowd surfing, throwing things or just plain dancing. Not at Jack Johnson. There was none of the above at this one. All you saw was people, after work, standing in GA or sitting up in the bleachers enjoying the show and appreciating Jack’s music. That was weird as hell to see at first – people just standing there looking at the guy on stage and singing along with many of his tunes – but once we got past the sticker shock, we too stood there in GA and appreciated the music.

That’s a great thing to be able to do for a change, without having to duck crowd surfers or look over our shoulder to make sure nobody is crashing into us in the mosh pit. And you know what? It was a GREAT show, too! Jack Johnson’s all about making his fans happy and putting on a show worthy of their money. He talks a lot between songs, sometimes, but we don’t mind that when he’s talking about the story behind a particular song and why he wrote it or telling stories about the road. Combine that with a captivating performance and hey, soft rock ain’t so bad. It helps that Jack Johnson is all about the fans, but this one was nothing short of incredible.

Check out the photo gallery below for some of the highlights of the night. Photos by Sean Murphy

Jack Johnson performs at Forest Hills Stadium in NYC