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Gavin DeGraw Can Hold a Crowd in the Palm of His Hand

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Gavin DeGraw With Parachute and Nick Gardner House of Blues, Dallas Friday, May 2, 2014

Worlds collided Friday night in downtown as the Mavericks' game six was underway and pop-rock musician Gavin DeGraw was in town, playing a sold-out show at the House of Blues. Parking, to say the least, was a nightmare. The convergence wasn't lost on DeGraw, either: At about 10 p.m., the New York native announced that the Mavs had won game six.

"I don't even know if that's true," he added, cheekily, shortly thereafter. "I just felt like saying it."

THAT WASN'T FUNNY. Lucky for him, though, they did win. (Let's not talk about game seven.) And that episode wasn't the only occasion that night that DeGraw proved adept at playing with his fans' heart strings.

Earlier in the night, it may as well have been a One Tree Hill reunion. After the first opener, Nick Gardner (whom this writer missed thanks to the aforementioned parking gridlock), came Parachute, whose song "She is Love" was featured on the long-running WB show. The crowd obediently sang along.

If you've never watched One Tree Hill, it's like Friends meets Days Of Our Lives meets an internal monologue of "What did I do to deserve torture like this?" It's bad. And, what do you know, DeGraw sang the theme song for the show, which aired for a little less than a decade. He's released five albums and made sure to spread the setlist from throughout his catalog on Friday. But when the first chords from "I Don't Want To Be," said theme song to One Tree Hill, played, shrieks and screams filled the venue with ear-piercing decibels.

Ah yes, the screams. Whether they knew Parachute's songs or not, most of the teenaged-to-slightly-older females were undoubtedly there that night to see DeGraw. Don't get me wrong. There were plenty of underage girls with homemade signs -- as such, the bar was a little on the deserted side -- but there were also a fair amount of older fans there to see the songwriter.

When DeGraw wasn't behind the piano, he was either behind the mic stand or working the stage and crowd. He had moves. Sexy moves. Maybe he learned to move his hips like that during his time on Dancing With The Stars. Or maybe he's just a naturally gifted hip-shaker.

In much the same vein, DeGraw is blessed with a raspy voice that oozes sexiness. It's the kind of voice to make you feel all the feels. It's like biting into cinnamon toast with smooth butter on top. Well, maybe cinnamon toast isn't the best analogy, but you get my point. The man can sing.

And his lyrics, oh my god. They're so quirky, weird and different that you wonder if anyone could be sober and create lyrics like his. I mean, just take a listen to "Best I Ever Had."

Even with his spot-on vocals that night, he did let the audience sing a cappella quite a bit during his most popular songs, like "Follow Through" and "Solider." Notably missing from the setlist, however, was "In Love With A Girl." It was the first single from his second album and even had a music video with reality star Kristin Cavallari. I thought for sure it would be included in the encore, but no such luck. Instead the encore was "Leading Man" and "Not Over You."

And then, as though to make amends for his earlier "joke," DeGraw closed off the night with a moment of genuine compassion: He stood on stage as people left and thanked the fans that night by blowing kisses, waving, winking and even gave the printed set list to one fan. A true showman, through and through.

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