Reality show concerts aren’t a new thing.
But they have evolved, which will be evident when a group of finalists from NBC’s “The Voice” performs at 8 p.m. Friday in the Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center.
That group of nine performers will feature multiple singers whose professional backgrounds put them at home on the stage.
Take Christina Grimmie, a finalist this spring on Season 6 of the show. Before auditioning for “The Voice,” Grimmie was discovered on YouTube by Selena Gomez’s stepfather and landed an ongoing opening gig on the pop stars’ amphitheater and arena tours.
Or Season 5 contestant Will Champlin, who toured as a stage musician with Carlos Santana and Glenn Frey, and whose dad, Bill, was a member of Chicago.
Compare that to a decade ago, when East Amherst native-turned-“American Idol” crooner John Stevens leapt from the Williamsville East stage to the First Niagara Center. For the teenage Stevens and his fellow “Idol” finalists, that tour was their first time playing to arena crowds.
But even for those who are experienced performers, “The Voice” tour stands out: For the first time, they’re the stars of the show – not the opening acts or backups. And they’re discovering what it takes to be the centerpiece of a grueling six-week, 31-show tour.
“It’s a two-hour show, and it keeps everyone on their game as performers,” said Champlin, 31. “You have to bring every element to the table. It’s going to make everybody a better performer by the end of the tour, for sure.
“Probably a little tired, too, at the same time.”
Other performers coming to Niagara Falls include Season 5 winner Tessanne Chin and Season 6 winner Josh Kaufman, along with Jacquie Lee (Season 5), Dia Frampton (Season 1) and Season 6 favorites Jake Worthington, Jake Barker and Kristen Merlin.
For each, “The Voice” offered a chance to showcase their music to a large audience. The tour, by extension, offers them a chance to connect with those audiences and bridge what can be a sizable gap between the television and music worlds.
“There’s a difference between the reality TV industry and the music industry,” Champlin said. “[The music business] is a mysterious game all the time. It’s not like TV. It’s a lot more vague to put two and two together in the music industry.”
Case in point: Champlin’s sound, which he describes as “a cross between electro and organic rock soul – elements of EDM and Americana.”
Sound interesting? It is. His first single, “Eye of the Pyramid,” blasts out powerful instrumentals with highly charged vocals that occasionally flirt with the label of falsetto.
To get it, you’ve really got to hear it. Or even better, see it. And that’s where “The Voice” show – and tour – has helped.
“’Music industry – I’m not even sure those words exist other than what you make for yourself,” Champlin said. “Most people get the ball rolling themselves. I just happened to get that ball rolling in the visual world of TV to get my music out there.”
What: “The Voice Tour”
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center, Niagara Falls
Info: www.senecaniagara- casino.com