Adam “Owl City” Young was at the HMV Institute, violins and all to perform for his adoring teenage fans (and their parents of course.) Adam isn’t a charismatic character but sweetly shy and withdrawn. Throughout each song Young announced how shy he was and how awkward it was to engage with the audience, at the start it seemed like this was going somewhere with this but it never did. “It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake” when I’m at an Owl City concert.
First up was The Unicorn Kid, hearing the name Unicorn Kid you don’t really know what to expect nor did the audience. The families who had brought tickets for a peaceful mellow night shivered motionlessly as The Unicorn Kid frantically leapt up and down “raving” away to his Casio pop electro beats. After performing at T in the Park to the hyped up festival goers the reception The Unicorn Kid received must have got to the kid. Regardless to the fact that the majority were drinking coke and being closely monitored by their parents, 8-bit dance epics like “Lion hat” were addictive and kept me and others on our toes.
Owl City came on stage to a sinister strings rhythm, the smoke came out and Young bounced on stage beating a drum like a madman. This was as lively as the gig was going to get and from the first song to the last it was clear that Adam, the electro pop act from Owatonna, Minnesota wasn’t used to performing for a crowd. He was used to recording his songs at the dead of night in his parent’s basement; his front man act definitely needs some work. The set lacked variation and it was hard to tell if the crowd were embraced or just really bored.
There was the odd spotty adolescent singing along to every song but the crowd didn’t interact well until of course Owl city’s claim to fame “Fireflies” started (which was quite late in the set).
The band, that were presumably there so it wasn’t just Young and a beat maker, sounded amateur and unbalanced. The drum was way too loud and the thumping base in EVERY song drowned out all the tuned vocals.
Young genuinely seemed shocked to be at the HMV and throughout the gig expressed how “surprised he was to get this far”, “how shy he was”, “how awkward it is between songs” and I just stopped listening (repetitive just like his songs).
However his sweetness and optimism made up for this. He is on stage, exactly how he is in everyday life. “Angels” and “Alligator sky” were among my favourites. When Adam let Breanne DÃ¼ren sing on her own I woke up as his voice is not one to dwell on, a full night of just “Owl City” without The Unicorn Kid would be too much to handle!
Young’s wispy vocals were not compatible with the loud band but without the band and the unexpected introduction to songs ( the use of Ronald Reagan’s Challenger shuttle disaster speech to open “Meteor Showers”) and of course hit “Fireflies” Young would still be making songs in his mom’s basement. The 3m copies of “fireflies” may have hit Young quickly but the miniscule amount of UK dates means he is keeping in control, for now.
Review – John Kirby
Photos – Jordan Hughes