It was early 2011 when the members of Hot Chelle Rae were still touring the country in a van, opening for a five-band show and hoping that the hustle might someday payoff.
The payoff followed quickly. By February that same year, the group’s catchy new single, “Tonight Tonight,” hit the radio. Everything changed.
“It kind of started blowing up during that (tour), says the group’s guitarist, Nash Overstreet. “The size of the crowd that knew our song … it just kept growing.”
The single, dubbed by one critic as the catchiest pop-rock anthem of the summer, quickly moved into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A second successful single, “I Like It Like That,” followed.
“Then we’re performing in Times Square for ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,’ standing next to Justin Bieber and Pitbull and Lady Gaga,” Overstreet says. “And then we’re winning our very first award, Best New Artists at the American Music Awards. We haven’t had any time off since.”
Hot Chelle Rae will be the headlining act at the upcoming Wild 100 Pop Concert, taking place Sunday, Aug. 19, inside the Oceanfront Arena at the Wildwoods Convention Center. The concert, a celebration of the city of Wildwood’s centennial anniversary, includes a lineup of some of the hottest pop acts — Kicking Daisies, Austin Mahone, The Ready Set, Forever the Sickest Kids, Rebecca Black and Outasight — that will all be joining Hot Chelle Rae.
Hot Chelle Rae’s second album, “Whatever,” gave the group a chance to have fun while songwriting, Overstreet says.
“We worked so hard to get our first record deal, and we were really trying to find ourselves,” says Overstreet, whose brother, Chord Overstreet, appears on the hit Fox series “Glee.” “I think we continued to grow from there … I think while writing ‘Whatever,’ we were a lot more comfortable with who we were. We wrote a lot more ourselves this time around. Writing songs is amazing because you get to use your imagination. You write about what you know and you throw in ridiculous things here and there. And when you look out and see fans singing to every word, it’s really rewarding. That’s what you want to do.”
Overstreet, who played one of his first gigs in Atlantic City when he was 17, is looking forward to returning to the area for the Wildwood show, he says.
“Some of our most amazing fans are in Jersey,” Overstreet says.
The Wildwood concert will mark the first New Jersey show for the Connecticut-based Kicking Daisies, who recently signed with Katy Perry’s producer, Sam Hollander. The venue will be one of the bigger places the band has played since first forming in 2009.
“It’s our first New Jersey show, and there’s going to be 8,000 people there,” says guitarist and vocalist Richie Arthur, who is originally from Wyckoff Township, Bergen County. “And a lot of the bands there I’m actually a huge fan of and have seen in concert plenty of times. We’re kind of overwhelmed that we know and love so many of them, so I’m really excited for the show.”
The quartet, which recently reorganized after the departure of two female band members, will be playing songs from their latest album, “Bows and Arrows,” as well as some covers.
“We’re kind of stepping out of the pop-rock, dancey-groovy (sound), like the old Kicking Daisies did,” frontman Duran Visek says. “(The sound is) a deeper, darker tone, but still with that pop element to it. We like to have a good time and get everybody in the crowd to forget everything else and have a good time with us. If we can do that, then we accomplished something.”
For singer Rebecca Black, the Wild 100 concert will mark her first concert appearance since becoming an international Internet sensation for the YouTube music video “Friday.”
The video for “Friday” was a vanity project produced for a mere $4,000, but the song quickly took on a life of its own, garnering millions of views in just weeks. With cheesy, simple lyrics and an almost goofy production quality, “Friday” became something everyone loved to hate.
“(The video) was one of those things that I just kind of found out about and I made the video as a fun thing,” Black says in an interview from her home in Anaheim Hills, Ca. “I had never even stepped in a recording studio before. It was just one of those things to try it out. I didn’t even expect it to go on YouTube.”
For 15-year-old Black, the viral video meant worldwide attention that she never expected.
“It was all very much — I compare it to a dream sequence,” Black says. “I remember the first weekend that it happened. It’s like … it’s not even happening to you. I almost can’t process that it’s me.”
Now, as she prepares to take the stage alongside acts such as Hot Chelle Rae and Kicking Daisies in Wildwood on Sunday, Black almost can’t believe it. She will be singing her latest singles, “Sing It,” “My Moment,” and of course, “Friday.”
“I’m kind of nervous — everyone always gets nervous,” Black says, with still more nervous laughter in her voice. “But I’m really excited. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while and building up to.”
Free Saturday concert
A prequel to the Wild 100 Centennial Celebration Concert will take place 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, with a free concert at the Fox Park Amphitheatre with Journey tribute band Voyage featuring Hugo. Musical guests Alex Goot, Ground Up and other special guests will be appearing. Fox Park is located directly across from the Wildwoods Convention Center at Burke and Ocean avenues.