concert reviews

Gavin DeGraw's Odes to Youth
Gavin DeGraw at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Thursday 8 June 2004

Gavin DeGraw's pop music drew a predominantly young, female crowd to the 9:30 club on Tuesday, but that's no surprise, given its marketing platform. His songs have been used on many teenage TV dramas, and one is even a theme song ("I Don't Want to Be" for the WB's "One Tree Hill").

His fans sang along to almost every song, and several times DeGraw's vocals were indistinguishable amid the shrieks from the audience. He strutted all over the stage while singing "Let's Get It On," occasionally picking someone in the front row to serenade along the way. (It was not clear if the crowd actually recognized the song as a cover -- DeGraw never identified it -- or if they were just cheering for its sexy sentiment.)

For the most part, though, DeGraw stayed seated behind his keyboard, standing for only a few songs to play guitar. He and his three-piece band kept the energy level high, with mostly up-tempo rockers rather than mellow ballads. His subject matter dwelled overwhelmingly on the ups and downs of love, straightforward narratives that his young fans could easily relate to, from new relationships ("Follow Through," "Over-Rated") to betrayal ("Just Friends") to experimenting with drugs ("Chemical Party").

Who knows if DeGraw's crowd will stick with him after their favorite shows are canceled, but judging by the shrillness of the screams on Tuesday night, all that teenage TV cross-marketing is paying off for now.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 10 June 2004
.: Selected discography: Chariot (Gavin DeGraw, 2003).