Secondhand Serenade Brings Orlando Back to the MySpace Days

By on February 22, 2017

John Vesley (photo Will Ogburn)

In the beginning, Thursday’s Secondhand Serenade show at Backbooth had the feeling of a typical show at the downtown Orlando club. Fans lined down Pine Street buzzing with anticipation, stretching almost all the way to the curb.

The venue was full of people by the time I navigated my way through the line, packed tight with drinks in hand and the occasional vape in their mouths.

John Vesley and Ballestrin (photo Will Ogburn)

It felt like an underground punk show or a popular hard rock band that had brought them all out. In reality, it was the sweet vocal musings of an acoustic show featuring Secondhand Serenade, Hawthorne Heights, and Ronnie Winters of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Kenny Holland (photo Will Ogburn)

Kenny Holland

The young and modern Kenny Holland out of Utah set the stage for the night of performers. His mellow and melodic music was a great appetizer, and he gave hope to those in the crowd by saying that his first concert at age 14 was Secondhand Serenade.

Ronnie Winters (photo Will Ogburn)

Ronnie Winters

It was a special show for Winters, whose musical career began in Florida. He addressed the crowd with an ear-to-ear grin as he introduced them to his mom.’

Sitting on the stage alone with only a guitar and a microphone, he serenaded the audience with hits that spanned throughout his career.

He opened with fan favorite “Facedown”, and the audience went wild. Winters also had the fans singing along with “Your Guardian Angel”, “Cat and Mouse”, and “Outside” – for nearly every word.

Ronnie Winters (photo Will Ogburn)

This unplugged and raw version of Winters was more fun than the mainstream appeal of his Red Jumpsuit persona. Sitting mere inches from the crowd, he felt connected to them and appeared to be loving the low pressure, fun environment in Backbooth.

Overall, I was impressed with Winters’ vocal talents, as well as the staying power of some of his music. He is a very underrated musician, and I would definitely recommend checking him out, especially in this acoustic form.

Hawthorne Heights

It would make sense for Florida native Ronnie Winters to say that Orlando was his favorite stop on the tour, but when the famously-Ohioan Hawthorne Heights said the same things, it felt like a very special show.

Hawthorne Heights, staples of the emo generation, have aged nicely since their inception in 2001. Since their music has undertones of sadness and angst, it’s easy to see why their fans would forever remember the band that helped many of them get through their teenaged years.

JT Woodruff (photo Will Ogburn)

Emotion poured out of fans’ mouths and onto the stage during songs such as “Ohio is For Lovers”, “Nikki Fm”, “Saying Sorry”, “Pens and Needles”. They also showed off some assorted acoustic tracks from throughout their career, including many from the acoustic version of their album The Silence in Black and White.

The four bandmates, JT Woodruff on vocals, Matt Ridenour on bass, Mark McMillon on guitar, and “Poppy” Popadak as a touring member on drums ranged from relaxed, to excited, to angry to follow the mood of their emotional songs. The mood was overall celebratory, however, as the group reminisced with their fans, many of whom had been onboard for over a decade.

Matt Ridenour (photo Will Ogburn)

Hawthorne Heights has changed a lot over the years, as have their fans, but the one thing that has remained constant is the emotion and passion of their music. If you were a fan of them at their peak, or if you recently discovered them, it’s nice to see a band that is so connected with their fans.

John Vesley and Ballestrin (photo Will Ogburn)

Secondhand Serenade

The show was finished off with a bang by the band that perfectly encapsulated its mood, Secondhand Serenade.

Secondhand Serenade is powered by one man, John Vesely, who took the stage with a joyful smile. He started off the show by thanking his day-one fans, laughing as he asked the crowd who among them remembers MySpace.

This is because Secondhand Serenade was one of the first bands to become a social media phenomenon, reaching number one on the MySpace charts back in 2007. It’s crazy how far we’ve come as a society in such a short time, as nearly every act now rises from the internet.

John Vesley (photo Will Ogburn)

Vesely was relaxed throughout the show, cracking jokes and talking to the crowd. A few times between songs, he asked a fan for a sip of their drinks, toasting to happiness with the whole house.

He strummed along solo to such songs as “Your Call”, “Vulnerable”, “Fix You”, and “Lost”, before a big surprise at the end. Vesely called to the stage his fiancée, singer-songwriter Veronica Ballestrin. The couple formed a duet to the song “First to Know”, from their joint project The Rebel Roads, and had the crowd cheering and clapping as they sang to each other. Secondhand Serenade finished off the set solo with his biggest hit “Fall for You”, and nearly brought the house down – in a chill, acoustic kind of way.

John Vesley (photo Will Ogburn)

The family atmosphere was not lost on the crowd, as Vesely told stories from his personal life and shouted out not only Ballestrin, but also her parents and their dogs who were in attendance.

Secondhand Serenade is soothing, pleasant music that is fun to enjoy with friends, but a little better with your significant other. Ten years removed from his number-one ranking on MySpace, Vesely appears to be having just as much fun now as he did then. This show was both fun and relaxing, and a great way to finish off the work week before taking on Friday.

Kenny Holland’s Guitarist (photo Will Ogburn)

Poppy Popadak (photo Will Ogburn)

JT Woodruff (photo Will Ogburn)

Kenny Holland (photo Will Ogburn)

Mark McMilion (photo Will Ogburn)

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