X Ambassadors Keep OU On It’s Toes With Rocked Out Saxophone< < Back to
Applause erupted Monday night when X Ambassadors frontman Sam Harris played saxophone during the track “Naked” in the middle of the concert after encouraging audience members in Ohio University’s Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium to be vulnerable with one another.
Harris, singer and guitarist, then called the crowd “gorgeous,” when he introduced the hit song from the 2015 album VHS. Sam Harris’ brother and pianist Casey Harris filled the room with ambience and the song’s melody while the frontman spoke.
“Ohio, can I tell you something?” Sam asked. “You’re so gorgeous, you make me feel gorgeous.”
The quartet took the stage around 9 p.m. after Northern Faces started the night an hour earlier. The X Ambassadors performed 11 songs from albums Love Songs Drug Songs, VHS and VHS 2.0.
The lights went dark and the audience cheered when Sam walked the blind Casey toward the keyboard. Casey, a professional piano tuner before the band took off, suffers from the rare Senior-Loken syndrome. It affects the kidneys and the retina and he has been visually impaired since birth as a result.
Noah Feldshuh and Adam Levin, on guitar and drums respectively, accompanied the Harris brothers onto the stage. The three New York natives and Levin, who’s from California, opened with “Jungle,” a high energy song heavy on drums and piano. Unlike the recorded version, the band extended the song in their live performance by adding a guitar solo from Feldshuh and a saxophone solo from Sam.
The X Ambassadors gave the audience a taste of their work with Imagine Dragons when they performed “Fear.” After that, Sam Harris asked members of the crowd if they ever felt like a “Low Life,” maybe during a hangover after a party where they did and said things they regret. “Low Life” is a guitar-driven song featuring Jamie N. Commons.
“X Ambassadors cover every genre and it still sounds like them,” said Dallas Craft, 25, who was sitting in the front row of the concert with his cousin Ben Saunders, a junior at Ohio University. “They just do what they want to do and it works.”
Saunders said he has been a fan for around five years and got two tickets at noon the day they went on sale in January.
“I mean — look around you,” Craft said. “There are students here, there are older people, teenagers and kids. All ages like them.”
The four members of Northern Faces were happy just to watch X Ambassadors run a soundcheck earlier Monday. Bassist Matt Ippolito said the quartet got the call last Friday to perform two shows with the X Ambassadors. Sunday night they were in Pennsylvania, Monday in Ohio and they were heading home after the Athens show.
Lead singer Bryan Shortell said the band has been together for 10 years. The musicians are all from New York like three of the four members of X Ambassadors. Northern Face’s debut album was released in 2015 and the group has been building a following by performing at college venues.
X Ambassadors closed the night with their two biggest hits: “Unsteady” and “Renegades.” Casey began “Unsteady” with a piano solo and Sam Harris ended the song on his knees.
“Renegades,” Sam said, is a song the band wrote for everyone. He said it doesn’t matter which skin color, religion, sexuality or political views, “Renegades” is for every member of the crowd.
“No matter who you are or who you identify as,” Sam said, “you don’t have to be afraid.”
The quartet returned to the stage for an encore, finishing off with 2013’s “Inconsolable.”