The Aces with The Beaches and Sawyer
New York, NY
December 9th, 2021
I arrived at Webster Hall on the evening of December 9th, for what would turn out to be my final show of 2021. The Aces were bringing their Under My Influence tour to New York City in support for their sophomore album of the same name. Joining them on the tour were Canadian indie rockers, The Beaches and Nashville locals, Sawyer.
Sawyer started off the night and really blew the house down! The duo, consisting of Kel Taylor and Emma Harvey, captivated the audience with their performance. Despite their quiet first impression, Sawyer quickly proved that impression to be false. They began the show with one of the best opening performances that I have seen in a long while. Their high energy never faded throughout their roughly 30 minute performance. While both musicians sang and played guitar, they often alternated, with one on the mic and one crouching down in front of the crowd – because crowd interaction is key!
I’ll be the first to admit that I was not familiar with Sawyer prior to their performance that evening. However, they piqued my interest with their unique sound that is a seamless blend of Nashville rock and LA pop. My personal favorite song from their set? Sounds cliché, but it would have to be their hit “Unhealthy.”
After brushing the Canadian snow from their shoulders (so to speak), Toronto, ON based band, The Beaches, took to the stage. Now, this was not my first time seeing The Beaches – I had the pleasure of seeing them open for Passion Pit a handful of years ago and I never forgot the impression that they left on me. Aside from being a huge fan of their music, I am a huge fan of their energy. I truly have not seen a band sustain an energy level like theirs, possibly ever. Guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist, Leandra Earl really captured my attention throughout the set. Her high kicks, head banging and, overall, high energy was so infectious and made the performance all the more fun!
The Beaches played a roughly 40 minute set that included some of my favorites like “Blow Up”, “Money” and their closing song, and my personal favorite, “Late Show”. As an opening band, part of your job is to get the crowd hyped up and ready for the headlining band and The Beaches did exactly that. Following their performance, as I made my way through the crowd towards the photo pit, all I could hear were conversations about how amazing The Beaches were and how kick-ass their performance was.
After a short but sweet stage set up, it was finally time for The Aces to take to the stage. Hailing from Provo, Utah, the band was definitely far from home but in one of their favorite cities – as they told the crowd that evening. The band consists of sisters Alisa and Cristal Ramirez, on drums and vocals respectively, with Katie Henderson on guitar and McKenna Petty on bass and, let me tell you – they kick ass and take names.
I had never seen The Aces live before that night’s performance. I was a huge fan, I collected their records on vinyl, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from a live performance. The set opened up with “Can You Do”, one of my favorites from the band’s sophomore album, Under My Influence. The heavy bass line intro turned all our attention towards Ken, on the bass, –that was until Cristal graced the stage in a sleek black suit with sunglasses, looking like the third Blues Brother! Cristal’s vocals were spot on, and sounded exactly like (if not, better) than the recorded versions of the songs. The energy was high, the smiles were infectious and the lighting display – don’t even get me started on that.
My favorite part of the night was when the stage lights lit up in a big rainbow behind the girls. It held a silent but powerful message in it, since at least half the band identifies as part of the queer community. As a fellow member of the queer community, it’s important for artists and musicians in our community who have these platforms, to utilize them in this exact way! The Aces truly showcased their full potential throughout their performance and they left all of us wanting more. Their energy and set was everything that I ever could have asked for and more. Beautiful vocals, strong instrumentals, captivating energy and a setlist chock full of absolute bangers (as Gen Z says)!