Concert Review – Role Model

Outside of the venue, The Theatre of Living Arts - Photo by Seneca Farhy,

Outside of the venue, The Theatre of Living Arts – Photo by Seneca Farhy,

Seneca Farhy

On October 17th, the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia hosted the latest indie-pop sensation, Tucker Pillsbury, aka Role Model. Known primarily as the boyfriend of the one and only Emma Chamberlain, Pillsbury is not to be ruled out as a talented musician. 

The night began at roughly 5:00 pm when I joined fellow Role Model enthusiasts Neya Anand and Josie Solomon to embark on our journey to Philadelphia. Eager to be first in line, we opted for a quick dinner at the McDonald’s drive through, which we ended up ditching due to the lengthy line snaking around the parking lot. Traffic was fairly touch and go from there on out, but luckily our trip was kept under 35 minutes. With only ten minutes left in the car, I received a call from Eleanor Adams, another Role Model lover, informing me that she had arrived and was waiting in an already extensive line. The looming threat of ending up in the back caused us to pick up the pace as we sped through the city. Once we were one block away from our destination, we hit traffic and slowed down to the pace of a snail. Anxious to get a spot, I took matters into my own hands and got out of the car and sprinted to the venue. As the building came into sight, so did the lengthy line of teenage-aged girls, stretching almost around the block. Speed walking down the sidewalk to find the end of the line, I was overjoyed to see Eleanor, joined by Zoe Margolis and Mia Lavine. As a frequent concert go-er, I understood the cut-throat environment that I was about to subject myself to, and made the executive decision to get in line with them, cutting off a good thirty people behind us. Neya and Josie arrived shortly after, having taken a few minutes to find parking, and merged into our group. The wait had begun. 

Waiting in line was no chore for our group, as we were able to keep ourselves occupied by absorbing the city life around us, taking pictures, and grabbing pizza from across the street. Slowly but surely security guards made their way down the line to check IDs, vaccination cards, and stamp our wrists with a blue “approved” stamp. Every so often, the line would move and we would link elbows and sprint forward. Finally, following an hour of waiting, we hit security and ticket check and were let into the venue. 

Upon entering, merch was tastefully displayed, sure to catch the eye of any fashionable Role Model fan. We passed by the display, more focused on securing the closest spot possible to the stage. To our surprise, as we walked into the room that held the stage, the crowd was half the size we had predicted and we were able to acquire standing room in the third row. Once situated in our spots, we were drawn back to the merch stand, strategically going up in shifts to avoid losing our prime position close to the stage. After an eventful ten minutes of entering the venue, securing our spots, and buying merch, we were finally able to settle down. While chatting with some girls near us, we found out that there was an opener named Binki, whom none of us had known about or even heard a single song from. Fifteen minutes later, we met Binki.

Bikini entering the stage – Photo by Seneca Farhy

My previous experiences with concert openers (those who read my Cage the Elephant review remember Glove) have been far below average. This experience plummeted my expectations to see an artist I had never even heard of. Despite this, Binki absolutely blew my entire group away. His music was a fusion of rock, indie pop, and hip hop which created an unusual sound which was nonetheless enjoyable and easy to bob your head or pump your fist along to. His presence on stage was chill — he strutted from side to side and bobbed his head, as if his performance was just another regular Sunday night for him. He brought a very cool vibe to the venue. He never seemed too excited, but not in a way that made it feel like he didn’t want to be there. A few of the songs included “Clay Pigeon,” “Heybb!,” “Seasick,” “Invisible Fence,” and more. He made small talk with the audience, chatting about thrifting and being a Pennsylvania native. His set was kept within the twenty to thirty minute range—the perfect length for an opener to get the crowd riled up but not too tired for the main act. After he exited the stage, my friends and I conversed over how pleasantly surprised we were by his performance. Undoubtedly, Binki redeemed my personal experience with openers and I will definitely be on the lookout for shows from him. 

Role Model performing – Photo by Eleanor Adams

Next on the agenda was Role Model, the main event of the night. The wait between Binki and Role Model (Tucker) was fairly reasonable as it did not exceed half an hour. The view of the stage with its dark purple lights, sounds of generic background pop music, and feeling of anxious excitement was all too familiar to me as I eagerly awaited Tucker’s entrance. At last, the music faded out and the audience went silent as the introduction to his most recent song, “death wish,” rang through the venue. Within seconds, he appeared on stage, greeted by the sound of screams from a thousand teenage girls. He danced around on stage, feeding off of the energy coming from the audience. He continued with “hello!” and “going out,” two upbeat songs that kept the crowd fueled. Standing roughly ten feet away from him, the pure happiness and excitement he exhibited was impossible to miss. It was easy to tell how much he truly loved performing. Even as he transitioned to slower, more serious songs, “minimal” and “notice me,” a smile never left his face. Between songs, he interjected comments to the audience and read fan signs, even sharing a short exchange with Mia, as she had been able to catch his eye with her sign, which poked fun at an interaction she had shared with him over FaceTime at one of his previous concerts.

doyouseeit” and “play the part,” two older songs came next. However, regardless of the recency of the songs, each individual at the show seemed to know every single word and sang them as loudly as possible. Being devoted fans of Tucker’s, the audience did not let other concert-goers get in their way of getting closer to him, shoving and getting aggressive when they had to, which was probably the biggest complaint about the night. Nonetheless, it was hard to get too frustrated with being pushed around a little bit as a personal favorite of Josie’s, “for the people in the back,” increased the already heightened hype of the audience through its quick tempo paired with Tucker’s lively spirit. “alive” and “better the first time” continued the set, two songs which I have always liked, however hearing them live certainly made me love them even more.  

Role Model performing – Photo by Eleanor Adams

It’s hard to tell whether the setlist was short or whether the night was just jam-packed with fun and excitement (most likely the latter); however, before we knew it, Tucker announced that he only had a couple songs left for us. Fortunately, this meant that his two most famous songs were left. “blind,” his breakout hit rumored to be about Emma Chamberlain, started up over the speakers and was met by screams of excitement from the crowd. I highly doubt that there was a single individual in the venue that was not using every single bit of breath to scream the lyrics. The exhilaration was kept strong, even increasing as Tucker began his final song, “forever & more,” another song allegedly about Emma. Hearing the last two songs were definitely the highlight of the night, as I have spent countless minutes screaming their lyrics with my friends. As he finished the song, he climbed on top of the barricade, reaching his hands out to his admiring fans and letting himself fall on top of the first row. 

After exiting, the crowd was not yet ready for the excitement to be over and a chant consisting of the words “one more song,” began to ripple through the crowd. Five minutes later, he reappeared on stage for an encore. He finished off the night with “girl in new york,” an older and gentler song, which in this venue, had absolutely no correlation with the energy of the crowd. Whether upbeat and fast-paced or slow and somber, the Theater of Living Arts was alive and full of energy, all thanks to Tucker’s enthusiasm and spirit. 

My personal experience at concerts makes comparisons difficult; however, Role Model shattered my expectations and showed me that concerts can still be enjoyable even without shoes getting signed. All you need is a good opener, some even better friends, and a dedicated musician.