Owl City, LIGHTS and Paper Route rocked a sold-out Verizon Wireless Theater on Friday night. The audience, which was composed primarily of 10-15 year-olds, screamed their hearts out from 8 p.m. until Owl City performed “Fireflies” and then headed home because of curfew.
LIGHTS, an electro-pop artist from Canada, was second to perform and stole the show. Not only was her act impressive, but unlike most pop artists, she didn’t rely completely on her backing band to make her look good. She played the piano and keytar while singing throughout the entire performance. Her vocals on her recently released album, The Listening, are all auto tuned, but two songs into her set list, it was apparent that this was only for effect. In a nutshell, the girl can sing and quite well, too.
On YouTube, a quick search of LIGHTS will bring up a bevy of acoustic videos the singer/songwriter has performed in the last few years. The acoustic sessions fully showcase her talent, but pop music sells, and it’s understandable that in a society that has embraced auto tune so wholly, an up-and-comer would take advantage of such a marketing strategy. Still, her CD is enjoyable in spite of all the production on it, and we suggest it for anyone who’s looking for some uplifting, nonabrasive pop music.
The way LIGHTS puts it, she uses the pop genre to speak to the soul. She feels that pop music is similar to gospel music in its catchiness. While she says she’s not preachy in her music — and she isn’t, we assure you — she takes advantage of pop music’s ability to carry people away. And it’s true; gospel and pop share that similarity (and only that similarity), but LIGHTS is hoping to find a niche market in those who enjoy the genre but are looking for more inspiring songs. She seems to be well on the way.
Paper Route opened the show and was fairly well received. The lead singer’s microphone, however, had far too much reverb on it, which made the words inaudible. The band’s performance wasn’t very impressive (if for no other reason than poorly balanced microphone and instrument levels), but as every song ended, the fans cheered, so it must have been doing something right.
Owl City headlined the show, but didn’t do much other than keep fans waiting until nearly the end for the hit “Fireflies.” The performance was solid, but far from memorable. Adam Young, the mastermind behind the “band,” made a few relatively weak references to Houston that all involved space. He brought up NASA after every third song or so, and the famous speech by Ronald Reagan about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger was played over the speakers. It wasn’t the best choice, because right after the band’s biggest hit, most of the crowd started heading for the doors. After a four-minute clip of Reagan’s speech, Young performed another two or three songs.
The performance, overall, was a hit with fans and their parents alike, who almost outnumbered their kids. We were pleasantly surprised that both LIGHTS and Owl City are more than capable vocalists. The auto tune is just for effect, and while I wish it wasn’t popular in the first place, it’s marketable, and the end result has been success for both artists.