Following in the trend of attaining fame through the Internet – literally overnight on sites like MySpace.com – Owl City launched its first national tour this fall in celebration of the recent release of their new album Ocean Eyes.
Adam Young and his band mates played to a sold-out crowd at the Paradise Rock Club Friday after opening acts Unicorn Kid, a head-bopping DJ, and the talented but somewhat misplaced Norwegian singer Kate Havnevik.
Owl City played without decoration on the set, but the relatively large number of people and variety of instruments on stage was surprising, given the fact that Young produced most of his original tracks alone in a basement on his computer.
With accompanying band members on violin, cello, and drums, and Young’s vocal counterpart Breanne Duren on keyboard, Owl City’s sound came across much fuller and richer, giving gentler tracks like the crowd favorite, ‘Vanilla Twilight’ a revived energy and layered sound that isn’t expressed on the recorded tracks.
Duren’s gentle vocals on ‘The Saltwater Room’ perfectly complemented the mellifluous string instruments and Young’s own melodious voice. The band played cohesively and casually, with about as much pretentiousness as a high school band playing at a prom. The complex, unique and spirited mixture of instrumentation pulled Owl City even further away from the band they are so often compared to, the Postal Service.
Young himself jumped around among the two laptops and guitars, often engaging his fingers in several different mediums while crawling on the floor to get distortion from his microphone in one song. On the catchy ‘The Bird and the Worm,’ Young diluted the familiar pop-infused tune by switching to an acoustic guitar.
For someone whose rise to fame was dependent solely upon the dedicated fan base of Internet users, Young engaged in very little audience interaction. He opened the show by jumping immediately into the music, and stayed glued to his music throughout the set.’ Though he left the stage with nothing more than a ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you all,’ the audience didn’t seem to mind.
Perhaps a positive side effect of being an online sensation is that you are constantly interacting with your fans on a personal level, so when you fail to meet expectations during a show fans are already aware of the reasons why (mostly because if the artist hasn’t already, he/she will eventually blog about it). Maybe, however, Owl City will realize that self-promotion and declarations of appreciation are redundant and unnecessary, and that the music is all that needs to be heard.
The encore of ‘Fireflies,’ Owl City’s biggest hit to date, proved this point, as everyone from pre-teen girls to college-aged boys danced unabashedly to Owl City’s effortless blend of slow-dance lyrics and fast-dance melodies.