Ten years ago, Interscope Records A&R man Martin Kierszenbaum began Cherrytree Records, and since then the label has put out a slew of artists acclaimed critically and commercially: Sting, Feist, Ellie Goulding, Disclosure, Robyn, La Roux, Far East Movement, RAC, Nero, LMFAO, and more. For the label’s tenth anniversary, there was a party at New York’s Webster Hall (QRO venue review) on Monday, March 9th, with Feist, Ivy Levan, Far East Movement, Matthew Koma, Jukebox the Ghost, Secret Someones, and The Last Bandoleros.
For a label with as many impressive acts as Cherrytree, of course most of them couldn’t make it. Instead, in many ways the party was debuting some of the imprint’s more recent acts, with video congratulations from others in between each set (though seeing, say, Ellie Goulding give her best wishes did make you kind of wish that she was there). And billed headliner Sting was down sick, an admitted bummer for most, hoping to see such a huge artist in a relatively intimate environment. But Cherrytree did bring free pizza, not just for VIP but everyone in attendance, as free pizza is something of a tradition for the label.
First up were The Last Bandoleros, whose swinging country-Latin rock decidedly isn’t the electro-synth so popular today, but an enjoyable appetizer. The other young act at the show was Secret Someones, relatively straightforward female pop/rock. They had just come off tour with recent signee Jukebox the Ghost, whose uplifting synth-rock felt very now.
Matthew Koma was introduced as, “Called the voice of EDM by some,” sort of a strange description, especially considering that he played solo with an acoustic guitar, but he definitely worked in his way. Contrastingly, Far East Movement lived up to their own description as “electro hip-hop”, with beats & rhymes. Matthew Koma joined them for one song, and the group also played for the first time live “KTown Riot Part 1”, named for their home part of Los Angeles.
Going even bigger was Ivy Levan, who played her hit single “Biscuit”. The notorious music video – previously featured on @Midnight – was one of a collection that ran on the screen behind the stage, in between acts. She couldn’t have Sting join her for “Killing You” as he was supposed to, but up on stage with her was Kierszenbaum himself on bass. If you’re gonna have an anniversary party for your music label, you’re gonna find a way to get yourself on stage…
Just alone on the big Webster Hall stage to close out the night was the one & only Leslie Feist. The first artist ever signed to Cherrytree, her breakthrough album Let It Die was the label’s first record. Feist played one song each from her three Cherrytree full-lengths, one from Die, “I Feel It All” off The Reminder (QRO review), and “The Bad In Each Other” from Metals (QRO review), which she introduced by noting that the label did think her most recent record had taken a while to come out (here’s hoping they’re putting pressure on her for another one, as Metals was from 2011 and once again we’re waiting…).
Feist playing “I Feel It All” at Webster Hall on March 9th, 2015:
But the most special moment came to cap off the night. Feist addressed the elephant in the room: a lot of people had come to the show for Sting, hoping to sing along while he played a song they all knew. So the singer took up that challenge and ran with it, asking the crowd to sing along with her as she did “Every Breath You Take” – in fact, demanding that they sing along, or she’d stop playing. Feist freely admitted that it was a song only Sting should play, but she learned it from a YouTube tutorial the previous night. Yes, she had to awkwardly feel her way through the guitar chords (and said that she hoped Sting wouldn’t see it), but it was so endearing that one couldn’t help but love it.
Feist covering The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” at Webster Hall on March 9th, 2015:
Each act only did a handful of songs, giving the event a music industry kind of feel similar to next week’s South-by-Southwest down in Austin, but the evening had a diversity of styles (“eclectic line-up,” as Far East Movement described it). It was also impressive how female-heavy Cherrytree’s roster is – while popular music may not be as male-dominated as other industries, it’s still not at fifty-fifty parity yet. It was a great night for a great label.