By Jason Mount
Students at Rider were in for a treat when former “The Voice” contestant Dez Duron and the opening band [stylized as] the highlands, whose members are junior finance major Matthew Esposito and junior marketing major Khalil Witt, performed in the pub on Friday, Nov. 4.
The pub was filled with students, who applauded, waved their hands and snapped in time with the music as the duo performed. Audience members also gave cheers as Esposito took the microphone to sing and rap original pieces.
Esposito and Witt performed songs from their upcoming album, “Disguise,” which will be released on iTunes and Spotify on Feb. 9. the highlands also covered songs such as Gary Jules’ “Mad World,” which the audience sang along to.
It was then that the highlands revealed their plan for the coming months: they will release a song from their upcoming album on the 9th of every month leading up to the album’s official release date.
The two finished their set by thanking the crowd for its enthusiasm and revealed that the performance was the first live show they had done. They left with a roar of applause from the audience.
Duron opened his set by performing an original song, then proceeded to discuss how the performance was his “first college acoustic show,” and described the scene as “fresh, reminding [him] of [his] college years, which were not too long ago.”
He then covered “Fresh Eyes” by Andy Grammer, encouraging the audience to sing along with him.
Upon finishing the Andy Grammer cover song, Duron took some time to talk about his freshman year experiences and how he did not adjust easily at first, his experiences with football camp and how he would enter an empty room to call his mother and express his discomfort with his new surroundings. He then described how he soon found a place at college.
Throughout the performance, Duron was friendly with the audience and shared personal stories, even saying, “I consider us good friends” at one point in the performance.
Duron proceeded to start the “sing-along” portion of the concert, and performed a mash-up of “Let Me Love You” and “Cold Water” by Justin Bieber and “Into You” by Ariana Grande.
Near the end of the show, Duron shared his experience with “The Voice,” saying how he felt embarrassed after going home during Season 2, and initially turned down the invitation to compete on Season 3. “I was going to fail again,” Duron feared. Right after, he explained his resolve. “I wasn’t going to let fear make the decision for me.”
Duron then continued with his song lineup, and before ending his set, shared a piece of advice for everyone from freshmen to seniors: “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Duron finished his set with a mash-up of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and Mike Posner’s “Please Don’t Go,” with the audience singing along and cheering as he left the stage to mingle with the fans, truly giving Rider students an enjoyable evening of live music.
Originally printed in the 11/09/16 edition.