Boyce Avenue brings sweet originality to originality and covers

Fabian Manzano plays the guitar as part of Boyce Avenue, performing on Sept. 13th at The Fillmore in San Francisco (CREDIT: Karen Datangel).

In the age of YouTube, anyone, it seems, can get famous. At least for the men of Boyce Avenue, the fame is justified. Sure, they may love them a lot of cover songs, but their soothing and soulful style that they inject into them is worthy of the hearts they win over (As well as their ability to transform Katy Perry‘s risque “Teenage Dream” into an innocent and tender ballad). Their original music, consisting of those same acoustic melodies in their covers as well as edgier yet kind rock tunes, demands just as much respect, if not more for their honest and usually heartbreaking goodness. The band of brothers from Florida proved just how entrancing they really are at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco this past Tuesday.

Boyce Avenue had played a slightly smaller, slightly quieter show in San Francisco back in February. With a slightly larger venue, they were given a little more boom and amp at their show this week. But despite being a loud concert, there were no gimmicks—just surprises of the audience not knowing what cover song or original the guys would unveil next, and the use of a couple of cajons. For such a polite and clean-cut group of gentlemen, the cheers they elicited from the crowd were deafening and energy was sky-high. You can say they’re like an indie Jonas Brothers for the over-20 crowd.

However, the Manzano brethren—Alejandro on lead vocals, guitar, and keyboard; Daniel on bass; and Fabian on guitar—have their own winning formula to serenade and excite an audience: It simply just takes their pure talent, singing and playing the beautiful music they make, or putting their own spin to a top 40 hit, and sometimes telling the story behind the song they were performing. One memorable original tune is “Briane,” which Alejandro and Daniel wrote from the perspective of a friend’s wife who took her own life. There’s also “Broken Angel,” written for another friend in a tough situation. It’s songs like those that shine a very meaningful light on the band’s musicality.

The set list included lighter yet still substantial selections, like love songs titled “On My Way” and those loud drum-heavy tracks such as “Every Breath” and “When the Lights Die.” Covers were also plenty and something to definitely look forward to, as they have covered many on YouTube but could only make room for so few for their live show. Some of the crowd-pleasing choices included Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep,” Taio Cruz‘s “Dynamite,” Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car,” and The Goo Goo Dolls‘ “Iris.” Bringing even more covers was the first opening act, Boyce Avenue’s fellow YouTuber Megan Nicole. To name a few, she took on pop hits like Bruno Mars‘ “The Lazy Song,” Justin Bieber‘s “Baby,” (Ludacris rap included), and Maroon 5‘s “Moves Like Jagger,” along with originals like her single “B-e-a-utiful.” Curtis Peoples, an established artist in his own right, followed up as another opening act, singing all original songs like “All I Want,” “Back Where I Started,” and “Everybody Loves You.”

Along with those performers lined up as refreshing support acts, the men of Boyce Avenue proved that whatever a few skeptics easily pass off as “YouTube cover bands” can be much more. True that they do other people’s songs extremely well, but it’s raw talent and creating a signature sound that helps them make those songs special, and in turn, make their original work admirable. Covers or no covers, this is one band that deserves to be seen by more people live.

Boyce Avenue @ The Fillmore San Francisco – 09.13.11.
(CREDIT: Karen Datangel)
Boyce Avenue @ The Fillmore, San Francisco – 09.13.11.
(CREDIT: Nicole Abalde)

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