Fans of all ages, evidenced by an impromptu “Tangled” singalong when “When Will My Life Begin?” played over the speakers before the opening act, attended the concert, many of them singing and dancing along to every word Owl City sang.
The stage’s starry background combined with the flower and foliage decorations hiding the microphone and instrument stands made fans feel immediately at home, as if we were a large group of friends hanging out and stargazing together, perhaps even on Madeline Island.
Owl City’s multi-talented Adam Young started off his set solo, joined later by a back-up drummer and guitarist, showcasing his skills on the guitar, keyboard, drums, xylophone and tambourine during the instrumental introduction.
Young’s vocals were also solid throughout the show, from old favorites like “The Real World,” “Hello Seattle,” “Early Birdie” and “Cave In” to several “Cinematic” hits including “Fiji Water,” “Firebird,” “Cloud Nine” and “New York City.” Young told fans while performing “Cloud Nine” he knows what it’s like to feel deep depression and anxiety.
“But there is good news, and the good news is you can climb out of that pit,” Young said. “It is worth the struggle. It is worth the fight, so don’t give up.”
Something I especially appreciate about Owl City’s music is its unique, uplifting messages, such as the sweet fatherly tribute in “Not All Heroes Wear Capes.” This positive vibe was reflected in an abundance of smiles among both the crowd and bands throughout the night.
Fans’ cellphone lights brightened the venue enthusiastically when Young requested they be turned on for the group’s performance of “Fireflies.” Young also illuminated the night at several points during the show with colorful glowing drumsticks that lit up with each beat.
I also enjoyed Owl City’s unique electronica version of Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” which led nicely into “Be Brave.”
Owl City left the stage after performing “Cinematic,” but wild applause beckoned the band back for one more song.
“Life is cinematic, and so are you, Utah,” Young said, thanking the audience for being there. “God bless you.”
Relient K’s Matthew Thiessen, who opened the concert with his side project Matthew Thiessen and The Earthquakes, joined Owl City onstage for the encore of “All My Friends,” wrapping it up with Young on the verses and even pounding out a drum solo partway through.
Let me take a moment here to talk about how much I enjoyed Thiessen’s performances throughout the show. Matthew Thiessen and The Earthquakes’ beautiful acoustic opening set was an unexpected highlight of the night for me.
The group consisted of two singers, a guitar and a trumpet, which might initially sound a bit peculiar, but believe me, it totally worked. The talented musicians produced a full, rich tone, vocally especially. And the band’s fun sense of humor and sense of nostalgia, demonstrated in lyrics about everything from a race car bed to what happened before Disney’s “Robin Hood,” was made more interesting by the fact they could make even a tune about a random coffee table book sound amazing.
The Complex audience obviously enjoyed the opener, more so than the band expected, cheering so loudly Thiessen said the group was the most enthusiastic crowd the band had ever performed the songs for and they would remember Salt Lake City.
I missed hearing Owl City’s “Vanilla Twilight” and “Good Time” during the concert, but the show was a good time regardless.
All in all, I’m giving both bands two thumbs way, way up for a truly “Cinematic” performance.