The Dome and The Boston Music Rooms, sibling venues off of the charming watering hole that is The Boston Arms. On this gusty Friday, the smaller of the two, The Boston Music Rooms had a talented acoustic bill headlined by Canadian Emo singer-songwriter SayWeCanFly.
The night opened with Ellis Slater , a solo act whose set rolled comfortably between skilful folk guitar lines and simple catchy chord hooks, all of which was performed whilst singing with what seemed like minimal effort for the level of coordination required. The crowd which was pleasantly large for an opening set was vocal in their appreciation for the London acoustic talent.
The second offering of the night was some more London talent in the form of CRITICS , self-described dirt-pop band, a genre which is sure to take off and dominate the airwaves if these boys are a reference to guess buy. Their set was dripping with a sass and theatricality which was the best parts of pop-punk giants like Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy mixed with a touch guilty pleasure pop such as Maroon 5.
The usual sound of CRITICS heavily features synthesiser as well as the traditional band line-up, despite this they adapted perfectly to the acoustic format of the night. Vocalist Lyndhurst, in particular, standing out as both a talented singer and performer - strutting across the stage and belting out falsetto with ease. The band performed a short but sweet set which heavily featured material from their debut EP, Spilt Milk, which is confident in its dirt-pop identity as it drifts through all of the staples of the Top 40 Charts under the filter of cheeky pop-punk. A particular highlight of the set was ‘Famous’ - a track which defines their sound in its genre-defying mixture - and features a break-down that has Lyndhurst providing a rap verse in his own band's song, a feat which was particularly impressive live as he demonstrated the lung capacity of a free diver.
Continuing on the sense for the theatrical, SayWeCanFly  entered with a spine-chilling use of ‘Edge For Night’ from the Lord of the Rings before he entered the stage clad in a dinner coat, bow tie and big rim glasses - this in itself a flag of the genre, a symbol with meaning to those who consider themselves Emo or have at some point in their life. Braden doesn’t rely on the symbology of his clothing to carry him through his set though, as he effortlessly demonstrates the soft voice of a lover and the heartbroken shout of a widower within a single song.
Part way through the night Braden states that he intended for the whole tour to be entirely unplugged rather than acoustic and that he would be entering the audience to play for them as he intended. This was met with what was most likely the exact expected reaction of a gasp and half-restrained happy squeals from throughout the audience, a reaction that was started again when he stated that one of his better-known tracks: ‘Song of the Sparrow’ would be played next. The reason behind the popularity of this track being more than clear, as it resonated with many of the songwriting gods of the genre, in particular, personal favourites Mayday Parade and Jonny Craig.
SayWeCanFly introduced something fresh into the mix with what he described as an “Emo version” of The Weeknd’s ‘Starboy’ - a choice which seemed like a surprise (if not a joke) to many before he began playing, making it perfectly clear that he was not only serious but that he was going to nail this. The cover brought a different life to the track that seemed to grant a whole new meaning and was a real treat to have seen, particularly for its lack of existence on any of his official social media.
Once Braden was in the crowd he took several chances to speak directly and personally to the audience, speaking about the matters which are included in his songs and others which are simply associated with the Emo subculture - offering his empathy and support in a warm and friendly way that was a pleasant and refreshing use of the platform musicians are granted.
At the end of the night, Braden waited near the exit to the venue where an orderly queue formed for a meet & greet and signatures before the fans went home, something he had also done for fans that were early to the show. There is no doubt that Braden, as SayWeCanFly is truly dedicated to his fans and is humble in his talent as both a songwriter and vocalist despite a skill that could bring an ego to many, this humble nature does nothing to dampen his charisma as a performer however as he shows exactly how he has won the hearts of his crowd of immensely dedicated fans.