by Katherine Jaruzelski
Not even the onset of bronchitis could stop Jordan Witzigreuter, the one-man band behind pop-rock outfit the Ready Set, from delivering an all-around energetic performance at Webster Hall in New York City on Nov. 22.
Ever since his rise to popularity during the summer of 2010, the Ready Set has walked a fine line between Radio Disney fodder and pop-punk darling. His squeaky-clean lyrics and bouncy musical style certainly appeal to the teenybopper demographic, while connections to pop-punk legends like Pete Wentz have made him the guilty pleasure-of-choice among members of that scene. It’s a careful balancing act, but from what I can tell, Witzigreuter has managed to keep both sides of his fan base happy.
All of the fans in the sold-out crowd—which, admittedly, consisted mostly of girls between the ages of 13 and 17—were off their feet for most of the set, singing along to supplement Witzigreuter’s waning voice with their own. Still, Witzigreuter made it clear that it would take more than a few flu-like symptoms to keep him from delivering one of his typically lively performances.
The show was held in The Studio, Webster Hall’s smallest performance space, which contributed to the intimate atmosphere. Witzigreuter spent the entire 45-minute set bounding back and forth across the venue’s tiny stage, interacting with the crowd and flipping around his signature shaggy locks. The 22 year-old’s youthful energy was certainly infectious as he breathlessly belted out catchy song after catchy song.
Most of the opening bands also delivered strong performances. When Plug In Stereo, the tour’s original opener, bowed out of the show due to illness, Justin Godsey of the band My Girl Friday filled in with a short acoustic set. Godsey brought more of a relaxed country sound to the otherwise dance-infused lineup, and his friendly demeanor and powerful stage presence kept the entire audience singing along.
While second opener the Downtown Fiction delivered an especially lively set and got the crowd dancing with hits like “Thanks for Nothing,” third opener the Summer Set was lethargic by comparison. Singer Brian Dales was (surprise!) also suffering from a cold and seemed eager to get the performance over with.
After a brief DJ set by Grant Harris of electro-pop outlet Breathe Electric, the Ready Set was finally welcomed to the stage with a chorus of overexcited adolescent screams. Witzigreuter began his set with “Stays Four The Same,” a fan favorite that highlighted his vocal prowess and distinctive fast-rapping style.
Given that the show was part of the Feel Good Now Tour, Witzigreuter devoted much of his set to songs off his eponymous new EP. Even though Feel Good Now had only been out for about a month, most fans already knew the words to songs like “Killer” and “Back to Back” and sang along whole-heartedly. Witzigreuter’s rousing renditions of recent singles “Young Forever” and “Hollywood Dream” also served as prime examples of the energetic style and sugary-sweet vocals that made him famous.
The only big throwback of the night was “Sixty-Eight,” a crooner off the Ready Set’s very first, seldom-performed EP Syntax and Bright Lights. Few of the audience members knew the words, but everyone swayed along and seemed to appreciate Witzigreuter’s shout-out to his older fans.
Of course, Witzigreuter saved the best for last with his 2010 hit “Love Like Woe.” In the final moments of the song, one fan scampered onstage and threw her arms around Witzigreuter—and before security could pull her away, he quickly hugged her back. That fleeting yet adorable moment drove home the fact that, regardless of its popularity, the Ready Set will always put the fans first.