By: Alex LaRosa
“Does this music make you feel good?” Air Traffic Controller’s singer Dave Munro asked his audience late Saturday night. The packed house responded with a massive applause. “It makes us feel good, playing it.” That was the theme of the night, as Air Traffic Controller took the Sinclair in Cambridge by storm, playing a huge set that covered all the hits. But at this particular show, they also spent time looking deeper into their catalogue.
The show began with openers Bleu and Alexz Johnson, performing their first set as the band Johnson and McAuley. Backed by a drummer and a saxophonist, the four-piece group played a dreamy set of songs underneath swirling stage lights, with Johnson’s voice commanding attention.
Air Traffic Controller finally took the stage at 10:30, and kicked off their set with the crowd-pleaser “People Watching.” That was the first of what would eventually turn into a massive 19-song set. The first half of the show was dominated by strong new songs off their new album Black Box, including “The House,” “What You Do to My Soul,” and “Water Falls.”
Throughout the show, which was billed as a release party for Black Box, the band kept up a high level of energy, dancing around the stage and moving smoothly from one song to the next, without feeling rushed. Their stage presence was huge, and at several points, Munro was able to get the audience to clap along and sing whenever he needed them to.
As the show progressed, the band moved deeper into their repertoire of songs, digging into their previous album, Nordo. The band played songs like “Hurry Hurry” and “If You Build It,” with members switching instruments often between songs. Nordo’s “Pick Me Up” and Black Box’s “On the Wire” both featured airy harmonies, with Munro singing alongside bassist Casey Sullivan.
Later, Sullivan had her moment to shine, as the rest of the band left the stage and she played “Island,” off the new album, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. When the band returned to the stage, Munro said, “It feels so good up here, how do we leave?”
It turns out that they knew exactly how to close a show, as they played a tribute song to a band from Bad Ax, Michigan. Near the fiery ending of that song, Munro hopped up on the bass drum and nearly lost his balance, causing the audience to cheer wildly at his stunt. After that, the band left the stage, but returned after the audience began to chant “One more song!”
For the encore, they performed two songs. First, they played one last hit, “You Know Me,” off Nordo. Then, to cap off the night, they played a song that was released only a few days ago on Black Box, called “Are You with Me?” The encore was a great representation of the entire show.