Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Hello Seattle, I am a Manta Ray"

Lights and Owl City at the House of Blues Boston, April 23, 2010

Dear Live Nation,
If you're going to sell me a limited view ticket, please tell me that before I buy the ticket.
No love for you and your fees,

No lie, there was a wall in front of my seat. It was at the very bottom of the stadium seats, far to the left, so the wall of the staircase cut up into my view. If I was sitting normally in my seat, I could see none of the stage. If I leaned over the banister into the stairwell obstructing the passage of people around me, I could see most of it through a bunch of bars. Awesome.

Paper Route
was up first. They were good, a very pretty indie spin on pop punk. They had some upright drums that they banged on, there was an interesting mash of instruments, and they were really enjoyable. I'm not sure there's anything super specific I can pick out about there set that I loved, but I enjoyed listening to it.

But you see, there was a wall. So I can't tell you to much about their stage presence. They sounded great, but as their set ended I moved.

I'm sorry House of Blues. You were doing everything in your power to keep us from moving onto that main floor from up above. You escorted us to merch, watched us as we browsed through over priced t-shirts. You were hawk-like in your pursuit to keep us on our assigned floors.

But I'm not a rowdy patron. I've never started a fight at a show. I followed your no camera rule, I don't stand where I shouldn't, and I don't complain about your nasty bathrooms. I also buy a lot of tickets from you. You have a lot of my money. So I wanted to see a show that I paid for. And when your escort turned her back I found someone I knew at the show and walked through those open doors onto the main floor where I could actually see. So. There.

Lights was next. She is awesome. Her voice is ridiculously powerful and she reaches incredible notes at ridiculous volumes. Her voice is amazing live, so very perfect. She's happy and funny and bounces around. There were also six keyboards on the stage. I kid you not. Both she and the other keyboardist spent much of the show with their left hand on one keyboard and their right hand on another. When that wasn't happening, a keytar was involved. It was impressive. She played the piano version of "Pretend" again, which I love, and announced that she just shot a video for her new single "Second Go." Very awesome. I really love her music, it's ridiculously happy and peppy and electronic without being cheesy. She has a whole stage presence and persona of being a sort of intergalactic musician. On anyone else it would be horrible and gimmicky, but on her it's kind of perfect.

There was a long pause before Owl City, in which the large swarm of underage girls got impatient. I was a little apprehensive. I'd heard bad things and I only knew a few of the songs.

I was blown away.

Owl City's live show is what would happen if you gave an indie show a budget, lights, and a screaming crowd. The violinist and the cellist (yeah, I know!) danced in pretty dresses when they weren't playing. There was a marimba. Three keyboards. Drums. A guitar. Ocean noises and pretty lights and flowers and dancing. It was kind of awesome.

With my lack of knowledge about the music, it all kind of blended into one great big song. Not too much variation but it was pretty and fun so I didn't mind. A local R&B group called Ahmir sang backup on a few songs and they were also rather awesome. One song has the line "Hello Seattle, I am a manta ray," and I just spent about an hour the other week discussing with my roommate the fact that I am a manta ray, so that was a point in Owl City's favor.

Point against Adam young, however: You're in a band called Owl City. Heck, it's not really a band. You ARE Owl City. So when the dude in the crowd wearing the sweatshirt covered in white feathers with a beak and big eyes starts waving, do not ask if it is a chicken suit. Do not get confused as to what sort of bird it is. When it gets thrown on stage and you wear it around your neck like a huge boa, do not still be confused. You are Owl City. OWL City. Geez.

There was one moment, however, that made me realize something awesome. Imagine you're a song writer. You've spent a ton of time just singing to yourself in your parents' basement, writing songs on a keyboard and programming things (this is what MTV told me about Owl City. I know nothing else). Now imagine yourself launching into the chorus of your song, telling the crowd to sing, dropping the instruments low and watching thousands of people sing your words back to you. Those words you wrote so long ago are now pouring out of thousands of mouths, thousands of people you've never met are echoing back those things you've written. That has to be one of the best feelings in the world, and Adam Young's smile suggested that he appreciated every bit of it.

I still don't get why Shaq was in the music video, though. I'm still super confused about that one.

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