Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 8:57 am | Fair 45º


Paul Mann: The Fray Heats Up a Cool Summer Night

The Grammy-nominated band, with Jack's Mannequin and Vedera, lights up the stage at the Santa Barbara Bowl

The Santa Barbara Bowl scored again with another near-capacity crowd attending a musical and visual extravaganza, featuring Grammy Award-nominated band The Fray.

A cool breeze blew in off the ocean as the sunset painted high clouds in pastel colors on Friday. A glowing half moon hung in the sky over the ocean, helping create a mellow mood, as the concert began with Indy music band Vedera. The relaxed atmosphere was aided by assigned seating, bringing order to the usually chaotic front pit section. Fans lounged with good food and drink (what other concert venue has $4 giant gourmet pizza slices or $6 imported bear on tap?)

Vedera, hailing from Kansas City, Mo., is an up-and-coming Indy band that has been touring extensively since it was founded in 2004. The core of the band, lead singer Kristen May and guitarist Brian Little, have such a strong bond that they recently married. They have just released their second EP of quirky pop songs and continue to build a new fan base.

By the time the next band hit the stage, Jack’s Mannequin, most attendees had found their seats, as the long summer day slowly faded to twilight. Jack’s Mannequin, founded in 2004, is essentially a piano band, fronted by keyboardist and lead singer Andrew McMahon.

McMahon, has a strong voice and frenzied style sometimes reminiscent of Ben Folds. As his songs unfold, he has trouble deciding whether to stand or sit at his piano and sometimes just jumps up and down on his keyboards.

His tight rocking band allows him to extend his range, at times sounding like classic rock Billy Joel, at others much more complex and modern, similar to the style of Incubus. The band exudes a pure energy, and the mellow crowd began to come alive as the band played an explosive last song.

Darkness was setting in when The Fray took to the stage. Lead singer Isaac Slade began to sing in the dark, as an eerie spotlight slowly began to envelope him in a blue light.

As the rest of the band began to explode in a cacophony of sound, the stage lit up like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, beginning one of the most elaborate light shows of the year at the venue.

State-of-the-art multimillion-dollar LED panels sent dancing electronic animation across the backgrounds, while myriad levels of lights and strobes created endless patterns customized and synchronized to every tempo change. Ghostly LED video screens, much like those used at last year’s Radiohead concert, added another dimension to the impressive visual feast.

The band, founded in 2002, has rapidly built an impressive musical record. In addition to its Grammy nomination, its first album reached multiplatinum sales, and its latest album has become a gold record.

The band has a sound much like Coldplay, but in some ways has more texture and layers of unique sound. At times, it has a more intense dreamlike feel to its music, more like Radiohead.

Its sound, however, is very much its own, which is revealed as it weaves a web of different moods and tempos, seamlessly throughout its concert. The mellow mood quickly turned to one of more excitement, as the band unfolded its awe-inspiring light show and rich layers of sound. Young girls screamed, and the crowd engaged in singalongs on more than one occasion. Most fans were on their feet by the end of the last beautiful night in July in Santa Barbara, and what better place to be?

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributor.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.