By Emery Columna –

To me, R5 is a band in search of it’s true self.

I take comfort in knowing R5 is willing to take on material outside the scope of their present circumstances, as evidenced by their choice of the set opener, New Sensation, by INXS.

When I first heard this band back in September, I got a strong sense of the influence INXS has on this groovy little band from LA and that is a good thing because that musical instinct will take R5 places once their core audience transitions into high school.

What did I see at Ruth Eckerd Hall? I saw 5 musicians trying their hardest to lose their baby faces while appealing to their core audience which seems to be all under 17 years of age. Right now their music is family friendly fare as evidenced by a throng of parents and children in the crowd this night.

Now I know how The Beatles felt with all the high pitched female screaming in the crowd which had my ears ringing on the way home from Clearwater.

Don’t get me wrong. R5 puts on a great live show and their audience gets thoroughly entertained.

So what songs did I dig? Quite a few, actually.

All Night is a song you can bob your head to enthusiastically. Easy Love and Repeating Days have that INXS thing that I really dig about R5. Cali Girls is kool. Now Lightning Strikes is a totally different song live than it is on the album. This song performed live is like Tony Iommi playing guitar for Britney Spears, which delighted me to no end. F.E.E.L. G.O.O.D. is a groovy little teen anthem.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of Dark Side on R5’s future. This song and others like it on future albums will get R5 out of the prison that is Boy Band Hell. I was overjoyed to hear R5 announce that Dark Side will be their next single. Bravo, Baby, Bravo!

It pleased me that R5 closed out their 3 song encore with Smile. That is such a hopeful and happy song.

The parents were happy the children were happy and the show goes on. I look forward to hearing the next album from R5. If you have children, you will not be disappointed.

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Photography by Warren Buchholz. Featuring: Riker Lynch, Rocky Lynch, Ross Lynch, Rydel Lynch, Ellington Ratliff

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