Inside An Emblem3 Show

'X Factor's' Emblem3
The surfer guys say they're backing Tate Stevens for the win.
Hollywood’s The Roxy is a relatively small venue, considering the caliber of music groups that it has housed in the past. However, the one-room lounge is… deceitfully small. It can hold a generous audience of around 200-300 people. So when a show sells out, it means that whatever act is playing there has a pretty loyal Southern California following.

For FOX’s The X Factor alums and SYCO/Columbia Records artists, Emblem3, those 300 potential audience members couldn’t be more important.

If previous X Factor UK alums, One Direction, are any indication, it’s entirely possible to make an outrageously successful career out of a failed stint on the show. Having said that, it was a smart move for Emblem3 to test out the live show waters in a manageable setting like The Roxy.

As someone in attendance who didn’t know too much about the band (having not watched The X Factor), I was ready for these three guys to impress me. I had no negative connotations towards them, but also no reason to think highly of them either. So, this performance would pretty much dictate how I would feel about the band.

As I walked past the long line of high heel-clad girls with “MARRY ME” signs waiting to get in (and the few that didn’t have tickets, but showed up anyway) the club doors opened with a rush of screams. A good sign for any up and coming band.

After the opening band finished their set, the curtains closed so that Emblem3 could set up. As soon as the sounds of drums clattering and guitars being tuned were heard from behind the curtains, a shrill and quick scream from the hordes of girls immediately followed. The mere anticipation of the concert made the fans exasperated. Finally, the vibrations of the speakers began and the scattered crowd all pushed to the stage in a frenzied excitement.

The curtains rose (to near-deafening screams echoing throughout) showing the silhouettes of three figures in baseball caps. The flourescent lights all went on in a triumphant flash and revealed each of the boys bright, excited faces. The already-loud screams turned into complete pandemonium, much to the boys delight. Along with the initial three members, the boys’ backing band consisted of two guitarists and a drummer of equally fresh-faced and attractive 20-somethings.

The set consisted of mostly original songs, among a few covers by other male bands like One Republic and Sublime, for the “non-Emblems,” as their fans call themselves, in the crowd, I imagine. The guys clearly prepared for their first post-show performance by packing in the studio time to write the group of bouncy surf pop songs that they performed, seemingly without a hitch. That was impressive.

The set had all of the sparkling three-part harmonies, pounding bass lines and acoustic guitar ballads that every pop concert can’t be complete without. Another good sign for Emblem3 – they know how to market themselves. Wesley Stromberg, 19, eventually asked the crowd, after returning to the stage for encores, “What street are we on, right now?” before they ended their performance with the song they auditioned for The X Factor with, aptly titled “Sunset Blvd.” And then it was over.

The girls screamed before. The girls screamed during. And the girls screamed after. That’s what was the most memorable. Seeing a group of at least six teenage girls jumping up and down and screaming, “THEY LOOKED AT ME! THEY TOUCHED MY HAND! THEY SAW ME!” — 30 minutes after the concert ended.

These days, boy bands are a dime a dozen, so it’s important to differentiate yourself from the pack. Emblem3 seemed to have a good grasp at this notion, because they did add elements to their performance and music that feels distinct from their genre-mates. The oldest member, Drew Chadwick, 20, who wore a tank top that perfectly outlined his tanned chest, mostly rapped. This was something I wasn’t expecting, but was pleasantly surprised at.

The other two members, brothers Wesley and 16-year-old Keaton Stromberg, who had the “boy next door” thing going on, did the majority of the singing. When I think of the term “boy band,” I think of color-coordinated kids singing into mini mics. The guys in Emblem3 (whether it was conscious or not) tried to go against this stereotype. They were candid and casual with the crowd, and looked as relaxed and natural on stage as seasoned veterans. This isn’t a quality you get from practice, but a quality that you’re born with.

All in all, the concert was a resounding success for the band, as well as the audience. The VIP section was peppered with music industry people including record execs, the guys’ managers, fellow musicians such as Jason Derulo and Benji Madden, along with fellow The X Factor contestants Fifth Harmony and Cece Frey all showing up for support.

The concert was obviously a bit of an audition for all of the potential backers of Emblem3. A good faith payment of sorts. Judging by the (literally) insane response from the audience, it looks like the boys of Emblem3 are making good on their promises.

Here’s the set list from the show:
1. “Reason”
2. “Curious”
3. “Chariot”
4. “Chloe” (New)
5. “Santeria”
6. “Secrets”
7. “Just For One Day” (New)
8. “XO” (New)
9. “Riptide”
10. “Jaiden”
11. “One Day”
12. “Sunset”
13. “Semi Charmed”

Take a look at some behind-the-scenes photos before the show above. For tour dates and ticket information, visit the Emblem3 website.

Revisit the guys’ first live performance on The X Factor below.

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