“Far away, you’ve got me standing in the outfield,” Martin Johnson, dressed in tight black jeans, a bomber jacket that reads “Real Johnson Records” and a guitar strat slung around his neck, crooned into the mic.
Johnson is no rookie to the music industry. As frontman of the pop-rock band Boys Like Girls and the veteran singer-songwriter who championed hits for artists like Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift, Daughtry and Christina Perri, The Night Game is Johnson’s newest musical venture — and it is infectious.
A retro-pop new wave outfit that feels like it was born straight out of the ’80s, the band just closed in on their five-show California tour last Wednesday in Santa Ana at the Constellation Room, visiting venues and clubs from San Francisco to San Diego in a matter of a week.
“The Outfield,” the band’s debut single that was released in April of this year, is timeless, classic and melodic. Best described as an introduction “to what I’m trying to do and a really good way to segue into the project,” Johnson reported to Billboard, the song “felt anthemic, without being a throat jammer.”
Simply put, their single is addicting — addicting enough to get global music star John Mayer to pull some hairs and get the band to open up on his The Search For Everything Tour this past summer.
Catching the band on their week-long tour felt just like watching the start of something big happening. After a successful mini tour earlier this summer, which included sold-out shows in Los Angeles and New York City, the world is slowly catching on to The Night Game.
Songs like “Once In A Lifetime” and “Do You Think About Us” have catchy choruses and hooks that induce crowd sing-alongs to rock guitar chords; “Coffee and Cigarettes” is a moodier number as Johnson ad-libs a story about being seventeen; and closer “Bad Girls Don’t Cry” is full of ’80s synths and canned drumbeats that are a pure throwback. Though their marketing scheme may seem slow and a little calculated (we all want that album out already), they seem to be pulling all the right moves.
The Night Game wouldn’t be complete without Martin Johnson’s showmanship and powerhouse vocals — moments where he looked intently into the crowd, using his body or guitar to bring his lyrics to life, talking of old lovers and flames played to bright guitar riffs and rhythmic backbeats. Sometimes he’d strut the stage and vibe to the impressive Kirin J Callinan’s guitar skills and massive charisma, who donned a long skirt and occasionally flung his arm into the air out of pure musical euphoria.
The hour-long set, which debuted songs off their upcoming unreleased album were melodic, catchy and felt downright straight out of a John Hughes movie — timeless, classic and memorable.
If you don’t know who The Night Game is, now’s your time to get familiar with them. Their energy was not amiss and if one night to showcase a bunch of unreleased songs wasn’t enough to convince you they’re already stars (who photograph so well), listen again.
Check out more photos of The Night Game live at the Constellation Room below:
Keep up with everything The Night Game on their official Facebook page and at thenightgame.com. You can purchase their debut single "The Outfield" on Amazon now, with their album to drop sometime this fall.
This article was featured on frontrowliveent.