REVIEW: Dan + Shay @ Starland Ballroom 04/14

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
Photo by Daniella Weiss

As the second leg of their Obsessed tour finishes up, country duo Dan + Shay made a stop at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey on April 14. After releasing their sophomore album, Obsessed, in June of 2016, the band set out on the first set of shows promoting their new material.

With bright lights and big production, the duo from Nashville, made up of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, put on an energetic and upbeat show. One of two preceding acts to Dan + Shay was newcomer Levi Hummon. Hummon played a mellow acoustic set, including a few covers by big names in country music. Following Hummon was singer-songwriter Jackie Lee whose name is rising up in country music by way of his latest radio single, “Getting Over You.”

For Dan + Shay, 2016 and 2017 thus far have been filled with major events beside the big release of Obsessed. In the latter half of 2016, both men got engaged while Mooney additionally announced his soon-to-be status as a father. So far, 2017 has seen the birth of Mooney’s first child and the release of a special song titled, “When I Pray for You.” The tune was recorded by the band for the new film, The Shack, and has also been included in their set lists for the Obsessed tour as a result of positive fan feedback. Aside from the business of their personal lives, the duo still found time to play two rounds of shows in the end of 2016 and the first half of 2017.

When they took the stage in NJ, the band emerged to a booming remix of Kanye West’s “All Of the Lights” before playing an energetic 15-song set with a four-song encore to follow. The set list for the night included several radio hits from the band, such as “Show You Off,” “Nothin’ Like You,” and the most recent crowd favorite “How Not To.” The crowd presented such enthusiastic feedback that the duo chose to play “How Not To” a second time, acoustically, during the encore. Upon beginning the song the second time, the duo was met with volumes so overwhelming that they chose to have the audience sing out the majority of the song.

The set list additionally included four covers that each suited the band’s sound in different ways. Early in the night, they performed a cover of the Bon Jovi hit “You Give Love a Bad Name,” which the band has kept in their set list for some time seeing as it is a crowd favorite. Towards the end of their set, the duo introduced a cover of Rascal Flatts’ hit “I Like The Sound of That” with acknowledgement of Mooney who took part in writing the tune for the band. To end their set, they closed with a lively cover of “Mr. Brightside,” the popular hit from The Killers.

In addition to the acoustic replay of “How Not To,” the duo finished out their encore with a cover and two fan favorites. They played an acoustic version of the title track of their latest album, “Obsessed,” which Mooney carried out in a solo showcasing his impressive vocal skills. Following that, their beloved cover of “Forget You” by CeeLo Green raised the crowd’s energy as expected. To finish, the duo ended the show with the song that started it all for them, “19 You + Me.”

Besides their usual active crowd engagement, which is characteristic of them as fan-friendly and interactive artists, Smyers and Mooney expressed their gratitude for the energy the NJ crowd brought that night. Judging by the emotions the duo expressed during the show, the Obsessed tour, in whole, has proved to be an exciting and rewarding experience for Dan + Shay.

-Daniella Weiss