With the release of his album “Chase the Sun” earlier this week, Greg Holden is about to emerge from the shadow of his hit song “Home,” which was recorded by Phillip Phillips, and gained acclaim under his own name. To make sure the world hears his music, Holden has been touring with Delta Rae and is planning to tour the West Coast with Ingrid Michaelson in the spring, followed by a European tour during the summer.
On Friday, April 10, Greg Holden shocked an unsuspecting audience at the 9:30 Club with his amazing vocals and musical talent.
He opened his set with a song from “Chase the Sun,” titled “Save Yourself.” The audience was not large, but Holden played the song with the intent and dynamism necessary to entertain a full crowd. His clean-cut vocals rang clearly through the venue, bringing a serene energy.
Holden seems to have an immense love for the District of Columbia. In between songs, Holden made sure to thank the D.C. 101 radio station for being one of the first stations to play his music. Also, according to his interview with The Hoya that was published last week, the 9:30 Club is his favorite venue to play. To make this performance special, Holden sold his album at the show even though it has yet to be released.
The stage production for the show was very simple. There were some lighting effects, but that was really the extent of the production, which was in direct contrast to the main act of the night. Nevertheless, the lack of production effects worked to Holden’s advantage. The use of intense lighting, props, etc. was unnecessary because his emotional and vulnerable performance was all that was needed to capture the audience’s attention.
Holden impressed the audience continually throughout the set with his incredible vocal ability. During “Hold On Tight,” Holden held out a note for what seemed like hours, gaining the undivided attention of every audience member. His stripped down performance of “Boys in the Street” showcased the vulnerability in his voice. Lastly, the simple clarity of his vocals in every song showcased the brilliance of his lyrics.
Holden persuaded the audience to participate during “Give it Away” by saying, “I know I’m the opener and no one knows who I am, but if you don’t sing along I’ll look ridiculous.” The crowd got involved by singing along to the chorus with the simple lyrics of “just give it away.” The joy expressed on Holden’s face when everyone sang was infectious. At the end of the song, Holden thanked the crowd with the simple phrase: “thanks for not humiliating me.”
Holden has a simple yet powerful stage presence. Due to the fact that in every song he plays guitar and performs the vocals, he does not command the stage physically in the way that other performers do. However, his powerful vocals and witty banter between songs make up for this. When he introduced himself as originally coming from Scotland and showed off his accent, the entire crowd cheered at which point Holden stated, “Everyone woos like that is impressive. I was just born there.” Holden’s best line of the night, however, was the following: “So far you seem like a wonderful group of people. Nothing’s been thrown, I haven’t been booed.”
Holden’s performance of “Boys in the Street,” another single off “Chase the Sun,” was the highlight of his set. All of the band members exited the stage, leaving just Holden and his guitar for the song. This gave the song a very emotional and raw feel that could be felt by every member of the audience. The audience cheered when the lyrics in the song switched from “my son, stop kissing boys in the street,” to “my son, keep kissing boys in the street.”
Holden also made sure to use his fame to support a good cause. On stage, he revealed to fans that people only seem to want to say hello, take a selfie with him, say goodbye and walk away. So, Holden created a selfie jar. To take a picture with him, he encouraged fans to place at least a dollar into a jar. The proceeds would then be donated to Music for Memory, a charity that uses music to help elders in care facilities suffering from a wide range of physical and cognitive challenges.
At the end of his seven song set, Holden walked off stage, leaving the crowd wanting more. Those who showed up early (to the already early show) were delighted with their decision to do so. With his impressive vocal ability and charming personality, Holden managed to make the audience fall in love with his music in a very short amount of time. It is clear that he is a singer on the rise.
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