Written by Ashley Friedman
It’s official, Kiss 98.5's Kiss The Summer Hello 2018 was a complete success, bringing in music artists that even live, sounded exactly like how they do on the radio, a rare find nowadays. 70 degrees and sunny, the Canalside venue filled up with kids of all ages squealing in excitement as they dragged their parents around, antsy to see their favorite artists perform.
Starting off the show was Livvia, also known professionally as Olivia Somerlyn. Bubbly and smiling ear to ear, you could tell she was grateful to be there. Wearing a modest red jersey dress, Livvia, is energetic as she sings a four piece set including an original single “Catch A Body” ft. Quavo and a recently released song “Gratitude.” The artist is not new to the substantial size of the crowd after being on tour in the UK with Jessie J and opening for artists like The Jonas Brothers and Meghan Trainor.
Then in comes Logan Henderson, a former member of boy band Big Time Rush. In pursuit of a solo career, Logan Henderson plays a short set of songs from his recently released debut album, 'Echoes of Departures and the Endless Street of Dreams.' Logan, sporting very John Lennon like red-tinted glasses and a contemporary punk-rock look sings his new songs with a certain swag and confidence that you can’t help but to feel his music.
Soon after the energized 5-piece boy band In Real Life comes on stage. Their energy is infectious and their outfits are true-to-self; Each sporting their own personal style. The group sings both original songs and a cover of Bruno Mar’s Finesse. The girls in the crowd are googly-eyed as the band dances around the entire stage and even makes their way into the crowd. They remind us of the British vocal harmony boy band, Mic Lowry with their style of singing. The band surprises the audience with a soon-to-be-released song, sporting a few Spanish verses, perhaps taking the popularity of Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” song into consideration when writing the track.
After a brief intermission, Jack & Jack are cool, calm and collective coming onto the stage. Jack Johnson reminds us of a young Logic both stylistically and vocally. His raps are both dynamic and expressive as they weave in and out of Jack Gilinsky melodic vocals. The duo takes advantage of the cajón drum in many of their songs, an instrument that has been around since the 1800’s, as well as sprinkling is a few tambourine, cymbal and acoustic guitar beats. The duo plays an intimate set - sitting comfortably on chairs majority of the time, giving a nice contrast to the overall vibe of the other performers.
Dua Lipa was up next, a favorite amongst the audience given her recent radio play. Dua, showing off some skin in a very classy way wearing a body-length black sequin robe, brings her backup dancers on stage as she sings her most recent hits like “New Rules,” and “IDGAF.” Although all of the artists sounded near-identical to their professionally recorded tracks, Dua by far is the closest to mirroring exactly what you hear on the radio. In an interview with Kiss 98.5's Janet Snyder, Janet casually mentions that Dua may be on her way to winning a 2019 "Best New Artist" grammy and brings up Alessia Cara’s previous KTSH performance just years before she went on to win a grammy herself. A gushing Dua and Janet both knock on wood as to not jinx anything! On stage, Dua sings a seven-song set and makes up for last year's missed KTSH performance due to severe weather. Those who were looking forward to seeing Dua were definitely impressed with her performance.
Alessia Cara, an original interviewee of Elicit Magazine back in the day, is still the same, true-to-self artist we spoke to nearly two years ago. Alessia, sporting her iconic tomboyish look with a feminine touch wears a pair of high-waist shorts, flannel and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt to top it off. She’s pop meets a rock and roll edge and we love it! With a shorter setlist, Alessia manages to cover all of her hit songs including “Here” except this time she shows off a new verse. This verse matches up with the vibe of her recently released song “Growing Pains,” describing the Alessia of three years ago vs. the Alessia now. Her personality is quirky and personable, as she intros nearly every song with the feeling she had while writing them and the feeling she wants fans to have after listening. In an intro to “Scars To Your Beautiful,” the crowd becomes silent with an occasional "you go girl" yelled every once in a while. Kiss 98.5's on-air radio personality Shy Guy Shawn smiles beside me as he admires Alessia’s beautifully crafted way of words and their effect on the audience.
Last, but not least, Why Don’t We hits the stage with a stellar performance. A remake of what we saw at KissMas Bash 2017, but very tight-leashed when it comes to choreography and vocals. The band, dressed in all black, has a set that’s on a different level than the rest of the artists, with a white-light effect that flashes behind the boys everytime one of them sings. They then move off of their raised set to give us a circle-of-life feel, literally forming a circle on stage and stepping out of the circle when it’s their turn to sing. The boys give off a true boy-band vibe, making the young audience swoon with every move they make.
Some of the artists will indeed make their mark in the industry with their catchy verses, fan appreciation and overall outstanding talent, the truth is some already have, and sadly some will fade out as the years go on. But, that day while on stage at Canalside performing their original music in front of both old and new fans, you could tell how much every artist cherished the moment. As one of the best Kiss The Summer Hello’s we’ve been a part of, this one will undoubtedly go down in the books.
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