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Monday, June 24, 2024

Back in the driver’s seat: The Driver Era’s highly anticipated Madison gig

The Disney channel superstar shows new colors as an alt rock band frontman.

The Sylvee is the largest music venue on Madison soil. With a capacity of 2,500, it’s been home to a number of iconic concerts. As one might imagine, the energy among the largely general admission crowd is unmatched, and April 10, 2024 was no exception.

Musical duo The Driver Era was established in 2018 and is composed of “Austin & Ally” alum Ross Lynch and ex-R5 member Rocky Lynch. The sibling pop band R5 was active from 2009 until 2018, when the two brothers Ross and Rocky debuted a more alternative sound. Despite the presence of a tried-and-true Disney star, initial success eluded the band. For instance, their debut performance in Madison at the Majestic Theater drew a modest audience, equating to a mere 20% of the Sylvee’s capacity, a far cry from the larger venues they were accustomed to.

As usual, doors to the show opened at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the show. A multitude of enthusiastic fans, however, were present on the grounds several hours prior. This display of fan-hood is often characteristic of bigger stars, and the sheer number of fans gearing to position themselves as close to the stage as possible was a testament to the band’s growth.

Viewing the show from the balcony, I had a prime spot to observe other concert-goers’ anticipation. It was evident from the movement of the massive crowd that frontman Ross Lynch commanded the most attention. In fact, the majority of chants from the audience were directed at the singer, including phrases such as “Take it off!,” “Cheese hat!” and simply “Ross!”

The intense focus on frontman Ross left me puzzled, especially considering the relatively subdued stage presence of the band’s other founding member, Rocky. Bassist Riker Lynch delivered a solid performance, but the audience's gaze seemed to gravitate toward him only fleetingly. It begs the question: does fame follow Ross Lynch wherever he goes? If so, why doesn’t the man just go solo?


The show itself opened with the 2020 single “OMG Plz Don’t Come Around,” which also appeared in The Driver Era’s second studio album, “Girlfriend.” The lyrics and background vocals include varied repetitions of the phrase “oh my God!” which I could hear fans screaming excitedly as the band appeared on the stage.

As usual, The Sylvee flawlessly managed the stage, orchestrating a seamless performance. Mood-enhancing lighting bathed each band member in individual spotlights, morphing into dynamic arrays of colored hues, setting the perfect ambiance for the evening. The bass from the speakers could be felt in my feet as I stood among other excited audience members.


The energy among the venue peaked at numerous points in the show, especially during the band’s cover of classic song by Frankie Valli, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” At other points, lulls overtook the crowd, such as during the band’s performance of ballad “San Francisco” with Ross on the piano.

The show epitomized a harmonious fusion of exhilaration and tranquil reflection, presenting The Driver Era as a force to be reckoned with in the music landscape. From the pulsating energy that electrified the crowd to the moments of therapeutic calmness, their performance showcased a remarkable versatility. Ross Lynch's captivating presence underscored the band’s immense potential, leaving no doubt that they are poised for a great future in the performance industry.

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