A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… okay, make that March and it was right here at my computer. March 21, in fact. It was then that I started writing a post about a performer named Passenger who I had heard a little about, especially because he was doing so well in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe. I also really liked his song. So, I wrote for a little bit and finished it and this piece went up just after Midnight on March 22. I didn’t think much after that because I was off to bed and hoping for maybe a few hits on it by the time I woke up.
Around 11:30 the next morning, I noticed two things that were peculiar. Firstly, my link had been tweeted out by someone named Terry McBride and this was awesome in itself even though I wasn’t sure who he was. Then, I found that pulsing orange “You’ve got a new comment” button going off with a response from somebody named Bob Divney, asking if he could use my post in an advertisement. I was confused, but a few Google searches later, it was clear that he was part of The Artist Cooperative, a small agency used for radio promotion and marketing that worked with Nettwerk Records, Passenger‘s label, which McBride is the CEO of, and that’s when a like turned into a love, which turned into some freebies from TAC, which turned into a job interview with Nettwerk Records, which turned into a #1 song on my chart for 12 weeks and now a top 5 followup single. That’s just the short version – I’m not sure you want the long one.
The point of all this is that “Will Passenger “Go” On To The U.S.?” can now be answered with a definitive “yes” – he’s sitting in the top 20 on Hot AC radio and in the top 30 of iTunes and there’s still room for much growth at digital retailers and on AAA and CHR radio. I’d like to think that maybe my article helped out when it was sent on a promotional email, even if it was in the smallest way; it was something that hopefully made up somebody’s mind about adding the song or not. Now, five months to the day that I started with that idea, I finally got the chance to see him perform live at the radio station I work at, and trust me, I was on cloud nine.
After setting up at my weekly event at a dive bar (but not in a West End town), I was back at the station smelling like I just came from the beach. Gross. After a quick wash-up, I found myself in a conversation with Andrew Govatsos, another Cooperative member, and I casually slipped in the whole blog post, which he seemed impressed with. Who wouldn’t? I think I said something to effect of “I’m so thrilled this is all happening,” to which he responded, “You wanna meet him? He’s in there.” All I could say was, “Oh my god, yeah!” There he was, red plaid shirt and blue jean shorts, sitting in one of our studios and extending his hand with a “Hi, I’m Mike, what’s your name?” and I was literally struggling for words. I was so not prepared for this moment. I managed a “So great to meet you! How was the gig in Boston?” to which he replied positively, then we took the picture you see above, and I was out of there for fear that I was bothering him. Also, there might have been an overdramatic faint on the music director’s office floor. Luckily, it wasn’t real but someone was star struck.
Fast forward through the in-between time of waiting for people to show up and getting them settled upstairs. Let’s begin the show! Like most acoustic loft performances, this was a shortened set and started off with “Patient Love”, an album track from All The Little Lights, which saw him plugging away his guitar and sounding just like the record. Then, he said, “this is a new song, tell me what you think,” before going into the line “Like the legend of the Phoenix”, which clicked with me automatically. It’s “Get Lucky”, the Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams song. He sure is clever, kids. This is coming from the same guy who was involved in a medley of “No Diggity” and “Thrift Shop” with Ed Sheeran, so he has some tricks up his sleeve. Good ones too. This seamlessly blended into “Let Her Go”, which was the cue for everyone to take out their cameras because once the hit comes on, you know the flashes come a-rolling. However, it was a passionate performance that everyone quite enjoyed. Lastly came a new song, “Scare Away The Dark”, which saw Passenger in name-check mode, from “hashtags and Twitter” and PSY‘s “Gangnam Style”, this while encouraging that “if we all light up, we can scare away the dark.” This was largely sung away from a microphone, and boy, he can belt and fill up a room. I was majorly impressed. He puts on an awesome show.
The guy’s a sweetheart and seems really humbled by what’s happened thus far with his career. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in meeting him. He’s a superb performer and an even better person to talk to – he’s just a regular guy, but you don’t know that until someone is humanized for you before your very eyes. Also, I just want to say that as he was signing posters away, I mentioned that he couldn’t just drop “Gangnam Style” in a song without making his next medley a mix of PSY and Los Del Rio‘s “Macarena”, to which he said, “Whoa! That’s a great idea!” I don’t think I was alive at that point, but if that’s going to be my new claim to fame, I will take it. “He inspired a mash-up of the two most annoying songs ever!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did. Potentially. Ultimately, the show was over and everyone went their separate ways – he and his crew to New York City, me down to pack up a sound system in Small Town, Massachusetts and thinking about how my chart was going to look this weekend given what just happened, while not fully comprehending everything at the same time. It was the highest point for me this summer by far.
Call me bizarre, judge me, tease me, etc. for fangirling for the growing list of British singer-songwriters that I enjoy rather than a Britney Spears or Lady Gaga type, but that’s just me being different and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Somebody’s got to be there for them. In a world full of cries of “one-hit wonder”, I’d probably be the first to argue that “Holes” or “Things That Stop You Dreaming” (which I would like to be the followup to “Holes”) could make an impact. It’s all part of the job. I’m genuinely excited about what’s to come for Passenger and Nettwerk Records, even if I wasn’t picked to work there — it was the consideration and the validation that counted, that maybe something could work out regardless of what employer it was. Most of all, I’m just thankful that a new favorite of mine is doing so well and can be appreciated by so many people. I’m not the first fan he ever saw or the last, and someone can probably outdo me in making posters and fan videos, but for one guy in Worcester, MA who wants to help the music industry and move onto greater places, this is a night I’m going to treasure, a thing that won’t stop me dreaming — at least for the time being.
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