By Cynthia Dagenais
Marist College sophomore Katie Hauge is a fan of rock music. Like many college students, she often purchases tickets to concerts as soon as they are available to try to get good seats to shows such as Metallica or Flogging Molly concerts. When flyers were hung up around the Marist College campus announcing an exclusive concert to be held at the Bardavon Opera House on March 10, the bold print and photograph of David Cook caught Hauge’s attention. An avid American Idol and David Cook fan, Hauge was determined not to miss this opportunity to see one of her favorite musical artists for only $10 a ticket.
Marist Student Programming Council booked David Cook for a night of rock music and entertainment, just in time for students to take a study break from midterms. David Cook, the season 7 winner of Fox’s most popular reality show, American Idol, came to Poughkeepsie on his 2009 Declaration Tour . Up-and-coming artist Ryan Star opened for Cook on the drizzly night in March.
The concert quickly became the talk of the town among Marist students, as evident by the throng of fans lined up in along the alcoves next to College Activities hours before the tickets were sold at 7:00 p.m. Hauge was seated in the first alcove next to the office at 12:30 p.m. after she ate her lunch.
“I waited 6 hours for tickets because I wanted to be sure to get a front row seat,” Hauge said. Tickets were sold on a first-come-first-serve basis, so Hauge got one of the best seats in the house: the center of the front row. “I’m a huge fan and I’ve followed him from the beginning of American Idol,”
Students unfamiliar with David Cook waited in line for lengths of time and received tickets in the first few rows just like Hauge. Marist HuMarist Mike Vogel waited with friends for 4 hours even though he was unfamiliar with Cook’s music.
On the night of the concert, SPC provided bus transportation from the Midrise parking lot to the venue in downtown Poughkeepsie. The Bardavon Opera House, located in the heart of Poughkeepsie on Market St., is the oldest opera house in New York. Built in 1869, this venue has seen hosted a variety of performers such as Frank Sinatra, Martha Graham, Patti Smith, and even the Marist College Singers. On March 10, the marquee of the opera house showed Cook and Star’s names brightly in the cool and humid night.
Though the weather was dreary, the atmosphere heated up indoors as the concert started.
SPC President Jesseca Carroll welcomed the crowd to the show and introduced the performers for the night’s show. The ticking sound of a metronome over the speakers suggested the start of the first musical segment as blue lights illuminated the stage enough to create silhouettes of singer-songwriter Ryan Star and his band as they entered from stage left.
Star competed on the second season of CBS reality show Rockstar, where famous guitarist and judge of the singing contest Dave Navarro called him “the Dark Horse.” Though contestant Lukas Rossi won on the show, a producer signed Star for a record deal to jumpstart his music career.
Star’s band, consisting of a backup guitarist, a bassist with shaggy hair, a drummer with a glistening gold drumset, and a woman playing the piano keyboard, joined Cook’s Revolution tour to promote his upcoming album, “11:59.”
When the first chord was strummed on the electric guitars, the band was illuminated by the orange lights that replaced the blue. Star stood in front of the audience wearing a red screen t-shirt under a black hoodie, and tight black jeans accented by a studded belt. Star’s main accessory was the black electric guitar he held in his hands, strumming and singing original tunes from “11:59.”
The audience “opened their eyes to a brand new day,” to get psyched for the music. Star got the crowd to clap to the drumbeat of his songs as he stood on speakers and amplifiers. Star told the crowd that he was excited to be in Poughkeepsie because he is a local New Yorker from Long Island.
Star put a capo on the second fret of his acoustic guitar to put it in a higher key, and with a pick in his black nail-polished right hand, belted out a song called “Breathe” in a rough rocker voice full of passion.
Star adjusted his capo to the sixth fret, and spoke to the crowd, “We put a lot of heart into this, but this song is one of my favorites.”
He announced to the crowd the name of the song, “Psycho Suicidal Girls,” and dedicated to the guys in the crowd who might have had to deal with horrible girls. It started off slow, as a solo, and then the band accompanied him halfway through, with bright yellow lights shining on each of the performers and their instruments, including Star’s electric wooden Gibson guitar.
Star encouraged the audience to participate in his chatroom after the show by texting “RYAN” to “50505.” He also announced that his new single was going to appear on Good Day New York the next day.
Immediately following the announcements, the percussion and backup guitar instruments prominently interluded into a cover of the Beatles song “I Want You So Bad.” The crowd clapped along to the popular song as Star sang in a falsetto. He ended his segment by swinging the mic, jumping high in the air, and then exiting the stage.
“For a guy I’ve never heard of, he made a good impression,” Vogel said. “I would consider downloading his songs.”
Hauge agreed with Vogel. “I didn’t know of Ryan Star but I thought he did a really good job too.”
A quick intermission gave fans time to buy merchandise from the vendors outside in the lobby and for the stage crew to remove Ryan Star’s instruments and do a soundcheck on David Cook’s guitars.
The theatre house lights grew dim until the audience was seated in complete darkness. Eerie horizontal lights glowed on stage as the crowd’s cheering, clapping and whistling increased in volume as 5 dark figures walked toward center stage. Spotlights pointed at the figures, and David Cook and his band magically appeared.
Cook’s band is made up of himself, 2 backup guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer. His guitarists Neal “The Doctor” Tiemann and Andy Skib are friends from Midwest Kings, his former band he had in Oklahoma before he competed on American Idol.
Cook opened his show segment with “Heroes,” a song from his self-titled debut album. Front-row fans attempt to stand up against the stage, but security guards ask them to stay seated in their chairs. The fans were cooperative and watched the performance from their seats, where they could still see Cook’s plaid button-down shirt and faded jeans from about 10 feet away.
Guitar-playing alternated between members of the band when they played “We’re Only Honest When We’re Sleeping.” Heads from the stage and heads from the crowd bobbed to the sounds of the cymbals on the drum set.
Cook performed songs from both his album and cover songs he performed on the show that made him a celebrity. His own songs such as “Bar-Ba-Sol,” “I Did It For You,” “Mr. Sensitive,” “Life On the Moon,” and “Come Back to Me,” (his single due out this month) had die-hard Cook fans singing along. Cook held out the microphone for the audience to participate in the choruses.
Between sets, Cook interacted with the crowd. A stereotypical female fan screamed “I love you” to Cook while he prepared for a song, in which he replied, “I love you too,” receiving even more screams from fans from that simple reply. He told the crowd that all he had to do to get the crowd to cheer is to tell them “I love you too” and he demonstrated by saying the statement again, and the crowd roared.
“I thought he did a really good job interacting with the crowd,” Hauge said. “I made a sign for him asking him to marry me, and the other side said ‘I love Word Nerds’ and he commented on it.”
Cook saw Hauge’s carefully crafted posterboard and said, “Hey, I love Word Nerds too.” American Idol fanatics know that David Cook enjoys solving word puzzles, which qualified him for the status of being called a “Word Nerd.”
Cook also thanked a fan that threw a bouquet of roses onto the stage. To boost the egos of all the young ladies in the audience, he said to the crowd, “Since Idol the crowds have become way more attractive.”
Cook continued his concert with two cover songs. He sang “The World I Know” by Collective Soul as a solo act, accompanied by swoons from the crowd. Immediately following was “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains, which fans contributed the sounds for the chorus.
“I was really excited when he covered Man in the Box because it really got the crowd to rock out,” said Hauge.
The final prepared song of the night was Cook’s current single, “Light On.” The audience helped to sing the song, filling up the auditorium with sound. The singing was loud enough to hear without a microphone.
Applause and screaming occurred after the band played the last chord and exited the stage. For nearly 10 minutes, the cheering reached volumes so loud that the band could not ignore it. The drummer came back on the stage to show off his improvisation skills while the crowd kept cheering. The rest of the band appeared and finished off the show with two more cover songs and throwing guitar picks into the crowd for fans to keep as souvenirs.
Hauge grabbed her coat and sign and headed toward the bus back to Marist, content and satisfied with the concert.
“I’ve always wanted to go see David Cook in concert, and it was a dream of mine to get front row seats to it,” said Hauge. “I guess I’m pretty lucky to have both of those dreams come true by only spending $10.”