The Rocket Summer at Hawthorne Theater: A Review of the Best Human Alive

So here is a little background about me and The Rocket Summer, who will be called Bryce from here on out (Bryce Avary is the mastermind behind the whole thing. He plays everything on every song and produces them. Genius.). I first heard him in high school and hated it. Then he came out with his second album and I was like cool, I can dig. He is an artist whose growth is literally heard from album to album. Full disclosure: I haven’t listened to much of the latest album. While Bryce will always have a spot in my heart, I often find myself skipping his stuff when it comes up on my iPod or passing him up when he comes to town. But I have always liked the fact that he tells stories in his music, he doesn’t write in the way that most musicians (or want to be bloggers/poets) do. He is very genuine and honest with his lyrics, and I love that.

So, I got there late and missed all but two songs of William Beckett’s set. Yes, the William Beckett from the Academy Is…, who I saw 16 times when I was in high school/beginning of college. It was a trip seeing him play after so long. Hellllllllo high school. I forgot that he actually has a really good voice. He and homeboy from Classic Crime did a cover of Marching Bands of Manhattan, and I didn’t hate it (Ben Gibbard is one of my faves so I am partial to covers of anything he does). Then he played what I assume is one of his songs from his solo album or EP. He was adorable and really funny actually. I wish I would have gotten to see a TAI song though. Oh well.

Then there was Joe Brooks, a MySpace star from Britain. Dude had a LEGIT voice, covering Jason Mraz right out of the gate. But he also knew he had a really good voice, which is why he covered Jason Mraz right out of the gate. And he was wearing a red coat reminiscent of British troops. And he reminded me of Tom Cruise. Basically, he had no shot of me thinking he wasn’t a douche. Sorry bro. But, I respect what they did up there. Mainly the 3 part harmonies because THREE PART HARMONIES ARE THE BEST! The last song was a cover of some song I forget, Lonely Boy, Cough Syrup, and Come Together. It was neat.

I quickly learned that most people were there to see the last opener, The Classic Crime. I already felt out of place (remember, I was seeing these bands in high school…people in high school are still seeing these bands. Good for them though). I had never even heard of these dudes before, but they were pretty good. I was impressed with some of the songs, but a lot of the lyrics didn’t make sense to me. Like hey, this sounds deep, let’s write it. (That’s funny, put that in there-Mean Girls reference). I am sure I am wrong about that but I am a tough critic. Their lead guitar player actually was in the hospital so they did the whole thing on the fly with just the 3 of them and it worked, so I can only imagine that they are pretty solid as a 4 piece. I am actually listening to them right now, You and Me Both. Check it out. I think they are at least worth a listen.

Now after 3 bands, old Jenna’s back was hurting and even though they were good I was like, “Man, I’m tired”. People were teetering out (idiots) but then, then something magical happened. Bryce came out and he smiled. My heart melted and I was like “FUCK YES”. He hadn’t even opened his mouth yet and his excitement had already won me over. He has a good voice, he plays every instrument, and well, he’s an adorable little man but I never give him the full credit he is due. There is not another musician out there who is completely divulged in their craft, who exudes passion out of every pore, who is genuinely so stoked for each and every person in the crowd to be there, who lives and breathes the words he is saying. It is so special to be able to watch someone do what they love and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. To be so happy to share it with people and put on the best possible show, even to a small crowd.

It sounds sappy, but it is the honest to god truth, I am glad I decided 2 days ago to just roll solo to the show because I will never forget how great it was.

LOOPING. So much looping and I LOVED IT. He looped his voice as a background, he played every instrument and looped it as a background. And that smile. God dammit Bryce. My heart is happy just thinking about you. And he did not stop dancing. He danced on stage, he came down and danced in the crowd. He also came down and sang a song from the floor…

And then the crowd carried him back to the stage like the sweet angel that he is. And, I guess when he was strolling around Portland he ran into a cellist on the street and was so impressed he invited him to play at the show. So instead of them doing the encore thing, the guy played an INCREDIBLE song and Bryce was so stoked it was ridiculous. Then he let the crowd pick the rest of the songs for the encore, and for one of them, ditched the mic, grabbed an acoustic and sat on the stage while everyone filtered around him and sang aloud. WHO DOES THAT?


Bryce mother fucking Avary. (I honestly think he would be so upset to read that version of his name, but whatever). And, on the last song he played guitar on top of some people…

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This guy’s heart is where it should be, and I think it is rare in music to see that. He is just a great human. If somehow you find yourself at a show where he is on the bill, do yourself a solid and check him out. I get that he is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I challenge you to watch him for 5 minutes and not have a lighter heart.

Bryce Avary is infectious and I want the Avary flu (Avary=Aviary=Bird= BIRD FLU).

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