[29 July 2014]
New York has been host to countless corporate-sponsored shows in just the past few months which in turn means there is an air of exclusivity to the event with the possibility of celebrity-spotting and obtaining giveaways (knowledge of the band isn’t the primary draw). Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Evolution Tour’ was one of the most recent but instead of a one-off, this invite-only series is touring and will head to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington D.C. following the NYC show. Although the specific acts for each date have not been announced what is known is the headliners would be either Alabama Shakes, Mayer Hawthorne or Young the Giant. Other DJ’s and acts may be involved, with Questlove of the Roots gracing the decks in New York.
Perhaps the coolest part of the tour is the inclusion of Exit Through the Gift Shop star Mr. Brainwash, Thierry Guetta, who will be at each show creating art from one of the new model GLA automobiles. For the street artist, that interactivity involved throwing buckets of paint onto and around the pristine white car, leaving a colorful, and likely undriveable, mess that became a center point for the event. He also added his personal touch to one woman’s black skirt. On top of that Mr. Brainwash also created a couple of designs, inspired by the MB brand and the evolution theme, to silk-screen onto shirts which were free for attendees (though there was quite a line) and a free poster as well. Guetta was seen exploring the venue otherwise and was happy to speak with fans and pose for pictures.
Following a party-friendly set by Questlove (which included Michael Jackson and many contemporary Top 40 tracks), Alabama Shakes geared up for their set. Brittany Howard has one of the most powerful voices in rock today and the Shakes have one of the strongest live performances so when they finally took the stage, they were immediately engaging. For the fans, this was a real treat because their set included new material from a sophomore album, the follow-up to their 2012 Boys & Girls, which is reportedly just about finished . A few songs in, Howard bellowed “Hold On” really grabbing the attention of the room and the people freeloading on drinks or snacks, though as she stomped around, the rest of the Shakes remained tucked further away from the front. Billboard got some info from Howard about the new album who described it to them as, ““I want to say like metal, I’m serious, and neo-soul. Scuzzy,”“. Certainly there was an edgier sound to the new material, and, along with a non-album track “Gimme All Your Love”, it helped propel their set to well over an hour in length (the free booze had stopped flowing by then). Hopefully the band will have that album out soon and hit the road again even sooner.
The MB Evolution Tour is a “free, invite-only concert tour – invitations are extended to consumers by attending test driving events or via social media. A week prior to each concert, Mercedes-Benz will offer test drive events and attendees will receive two tickets to the upcoming show. Aside from the local market test drives, consumers can obtain tickets through social media by uploading a photo that captures the spirit of the tour or share a note about why they should attend for a chance to win tickets. All entries will be evaluated by different criteria and consumers will be notified a week prior to the show in each local market”.