Saturday, November 19, 2011

Owl City: Live At The 9:30 Club

Owl City is currently on the All Things Bright And Beautiful Tour and earlier this week, he stopped by Washington DC's 9:30 Club.  On the 16th of November, a massive line of eager fans lined down the sidewalks surrounding the building.  What had otherwise been a damp and gloomy day would soon become a night of sunny music.

As the doors opened and everyone rushed in, opening band Days Difference warmed up the audience.  A pop band from Virginia, the group managed to get an enthusiastic response from the room.  Imagine Hot Chelle Rae without the mock-Ke$ha attitude or high pitched vocals.  I do have to say that something about their sound didn't quite mesh with Owl City.  The band's music would fit better with a more pop-rock oriented artist.

At around ten past seven, Owl City took the stage.  When the lights went down and the first sounds appeared, every mouth in the building shrieked.  Due to the overabundance of teenage girls that occupied the majority of the venue, a sonic boom of screams welcomed the night's act.  My ears were ringing before the main show even started.  With an extended opening of the first track off his new album, Adam Young popped out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Adam has stated time and time again that he's as shy as they come, he even talked about it during a break in the music.  His stage presence was bashful and incredibly lighthearted.  Between every song, he would laugh off the applause with a disbelieving grin.  The euphoric mood prevailed above everything else.

Unlike some of Owl City's previous tours, a full live band supplied the music.  Young found himself surrounded by an acoustic drum set, a small string section, and various guitars and keyboards.  Plenty of programmed beats filled the evening as well.

From Of June to All Things Bright And Beautiful, the band played a solid set that tested the crowd's knowledge of their discography.  The crowd delivered.  Not a single syllable was missed as they sang along to "Hello Seattle" or the raving beat of "Umbrella Beach".  After a block of high energy numbers was pumped out, Adam took to the keyboard for the piano driven "Lonely Lullaby".

With the night's softest moment aside, it was time for the song everyone was waiting for.  The opening notes to "Fireflies" made even the most casual fans bounce off the walls.  This momentum continued through a wild version of "Kamikaze" and into my personal favorite, "Meteor Shower".  "The Yacht Club", a duet with LIGHTS that appeared on Owl City's newest record, ended the set.  Breanne Düren, who makes appearances on the albums, and tackles the synth on tour, took over LIGHTS' vocal duties.  The wait for an encore wasn't very long, as the group returned to the stage for two more songs.  A lively performance of "Vanilla Twilight" and the closing number, "If My Heart Was A House".

When listening to an Owl City album, it's easy to imagine what a live concert would look like.  Something similar to a few guys dancing around in front of some MacBooks, with maybe a synth or two.  In reality, the picture couldn't be further from these expectations.  There was plenty of dancing, but the full sound of a band really brought a new element to the music.  The strings were lush and the beats were hard.  It didn't feel like monotonous electo-pop without emotion.  Instead, Owl City was a bright blast of fun.

The Real World
Cave In
Fuzzy Blue Lights / The Airway
Hello Seattle
Swimming In Miami
Umbrella Beach
Dear Vienna
Lonely Lullaby
Dream Don't Turn To Dust
January 28, 1986
I Hope You Think Of Me
Deer In The Headlights
The Yacht Club
Vanilla Twilight
If My Heart Was A House

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