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X Ambassadors // Live @ The Crystal Ballroom // 3.29.16

Article and Photos by: Kristina Dawn


PORTLAND, OR – A surprisingly warm spring day here in Oregon brought out a line around the block to The Crystal Ballroom, a 1,500 person venue with floors that bounce almost as much as the bass does. The Crystal is a historic 102 year old ballroom, with walls decorated in Renaissance style paintings, as well as large Crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, making it one of the most beautiful venues in Portland. But let’s be real, architecture isn’t what we all came here to see.

Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Fantasy-Pop-Rock duo Savoir Adore started the show off with a bang. Savoir opened with one of their newest single “Lovers Wake”, transitioning into a throwback from their very successful EP Bodies. Sounding like a mixture of 80’s pop inspired bands like Walk the Moon and St. Lucia, with a little bit of The Mowgli’s thrown in there for good measure, Savoir had the audience on their feet. Layered in weightless synths, funky guitar riffs, and tight harmonies, Savoir Adore closed out their dance filled set with their newest single “Giants”.

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Next up, Swedish recording artist Seinabo Sey took the stage. Accompanied simply by a drummer and a pianist, Seinbo captivated the audience with her opener “Poetic” from her latest album Pretend. Seinabo is one of those performers whose so vulnerable on stage, you feel like you’ve known her for years, even if it’s your first time meeting. Contrasting from the previous band Savoir Adore, Seinabo brought a Soul/Electro-Pop vibe. With vocals sounding like a perfect mixture of Adele and Mary J. Blige, Seinabo Sey finished off her set with the audience chanting lyrics from her hard hitting 808 filled song “Hard Time”.

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With the audience screaming at the top of their lungs, Brooklyn natives X Ambassadors blasted open their sold out show with the intricately bass laced “Loveless” from their latest album VHS. With some of the highest energy I’ve ever seen, the four piece comprised of Brothers Sam and Casey Harris, drummer Adam Levin, and a temporary guitarist, powered through songs from both their debut full length VHS and their 2013 EP Love Songs Drug Songs.

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After taking a more delicate moment filled with cell phone flashlights (and a few old fashioned lighters) in the sky during “Unsteady”, Sam whipped out his famous saxophone for “Naked” a song he coins as “a song about vulnerability – and also about sex.” X Ambassadors hit the gates again running with face melting guitar solos in “Gorgeous” and “Jungle”, famously recorded with English Blues singer Jamie N. Commons. Casey Harris, who was born blind, performed so intensely, it seemed his keyboard almost flew off its stand.

Brother Sam Harris, whose vocal range spans from low gravelly tones to the highest of falsettos, took a moment before the band’s “last song” to express his gratitude to the people of Portland. Saying “I used to visit my brother Casey while he was taking piano lessons across the river in Washington, and when I came to visit Portland I’d walk past this building and think ‘man, that would be crazy to play there one day’. Tonight, we sold that building out. YOU sold that building out. Thank you Portland.” Transitioning next into the crowd singing along to an acoustic intro of bands biggest hit “Renegades”.

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Returning for a two song encore, the band ran back on stage to the complex Salsa/Hip Hop styled “Fear” famously composed with Imagine Dragon’s lead singer Dan Reynolds. With the audience jumping so intensely that the floor bounced all the way to the back door, X Ambassadors closed out their show with the first track from their Love Songs Drug Songs EP,  “Unconsolable”. Leaving the audience sweaty, sore, and begging for more.

Kristina Dawn
Kristina Dawn is a freelance music photographer and videographer from Portland, OR. She hopes to one day tour the world, capturing the extraordinary lives of some of the nations best musicians.