When: Sat., Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m. 2016
SATURDAY, FEB. 20 NEVER SHOUT NEVER
Pop music's MySpace era was a disconcertingly loud blip populated by the aural equivalent of those gaudy, eye-popping Blingee GIFs. But that bygone moment's Internet-empowered democratization gave artists who once might have slogged it out on the coffeehouse circuit an express ticket to stages like those of the Warped Tour.
Take Christofer Drew, the main creative force behind Never Shout Never. In 2008, when he was eighteen, he released the EP Yippee, which leans on strident strumming, well-placed la-la-las, and precisely enunciated vocals that are part Something Corporate, part musical-theater audition tape. His flair for the dramatic and self-lacerating lyrics proved catnip for the crowd watching the last gasp of MTV's request-based video countdown, TRL. Viewers doggedly dialed in to place pierced, coiffed, and utterly pop-friendly acts like Metro Station, All Time Low, and, eventually, Never Shout Never on the airwaves.
Drew's collaborators have shifted over time, but Never Shout Never remains prominent enough to appear on Warped's biggest stage. That tour is still a haven for "alternative" types of rock, an ever-expanding umbrella under which the hooky, pleading subgenre of power pop falls. This is good news for Drew, as the best moments of Black Cat, Never Shout Never's seventh full-length, take those early la-las and blow them up and out. These songs are huge. The outcast anthem that opens Black Cat, "Hey! We OK!," sports juicy keyboards and an irresistible melody, while the grandiose, piano-driven title track matches Drew's theatricality with production that's so over the top it induces giddiness. Drew's passion means that tagging him "emo" isn't entirely inaccurate, but his work during the last decade shows he's grown up enough to grow out of several musical pigeonholes. —Maura Johnston
LINCOLN THEATRE, RALEIGH 6:30 p.m., $20, www.lincolntheatre.com