Cody Simpson at Mill City Nights, 7/2/13

Cody Simpson at Mill City Nights, 7/2/13
Photo by Youa Vang

Cody Simpson with Ryan Beatty and Before You Exit
Mill City Nights, Minneapolis
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It makes you wonder what you have done with your life when Australian performer Cody Simpson has been selling records worldwide and traveling the world with his music -- and he's only 16 years-old. Simpson plays instruments, sings, and dances all the while sporting the tightest arm muscles shown off by his sleeveless shirts. Each move he made and everything he said in his Australian accent induced a round of howls from the young girls in the crowd. If small dogs were allowed into Mill City Nights on Tuesday, they would have been driven crazy by the high-pitched screams.

When there's a venue change [from the State Theater to Mill City Nights], it sometimes is a sign of trouble that tickets are not selling as well, but Cody didn't let that affect him, nor did he let it on with how sick he was. With dance moves along with backup dancers to rival Justin Bieber, the tawny haired Simpson opened with "Be the One" and moved around onstage with delight in his element.

Every one of Cody's songs circles around the subject of love, or what love looks like to a 16-year-old, and Simpson knows how to sell it. Each is poppy with catchy hooks, and just in time for the prime of summer, Cody will be releasing the title track off his upcoming album Paradise in two weeks. He did not miss his chance to plug the album.

Cody Simpson at Mill City Nights, 7/2/13
Photo by Youa Vang

Simpson can be described as a mix between Justin Bieber and Jack Johnson with his beachy/summery vibe. Saying to the audience, "You probably have never heard this song before," which was probably true since the average age of the audience was 14, he launched into a cover of Jack Johnson's "Bubble Toes." Those who knew the tune sang along, feeling as if they were privileged enough to be ahead of the game and shared a mutual knowledge of music that paralleled Cody's.

Cody Simpson at Mill City Nights, 7/2/13
Cody Simpson at Mill City Nights, 7/2/13
Photos by Youa Vang

To the regular concert-goer, Simpson's onstage banter may seem a little canned -- he even teased taking off his shirt when he mentioned how hot he was -- but each young girl in the audience felt as if he was singing to her. One girl was lucky enough to sit awkwardly onstage as he donned a lei and sang "Angel" to her, even dancing with her while holding his guitar.

Cody's backup band and dancers are certainly talented and pop music may not give them much room to stretch their chops, but "If You Left Him For Me" allowed the band to bring out the keytar and let his guitarist shred while Simpson made a quick costume change into a black tank top.

In keeping with a generation that grew up with the internet, Cody made a name for himself via the web, and invited girls to send in pictures of themselves for a photo montage to be played during "Pretty Brown Eyes." Hopefully no one with blue eyes didn't feel too discriminated when that was a requirement for the photos.

With such a young audience, the attention span didn't call for a long set, especially with curfew looming at 10 p.m., so as Cody finished "Pretty Brown Eyes," a group of young girls quickly exited the venue -- perhaps rushing outside to wait by his tour bus -- not realizing there would be an encore of his biggest hit "iYiYi." The song was made famous with the help of Flo Rida (the key to a successful pop song is to collaborate with a rapper), and released when Cody was just 13. The song had every girl in the room singing along to the chorus that gets stuck in your head. Let's hope they're still singing it five years from now when they have moved on their Cody Simpson crush.

Critic's bias: It's always interesting to me to see the life cycle of a pop star. Simpson can either be selling out stadiums in a few years or just a picture in Tiger Beat hidden away in a closet.

The crowd: Young girls -- as young as 7 years-old -- and their parents.

Overheard in the crowd: "That girl just got 'leid' by Cody Simpson."

Random notebook dump: Simpson's music was so bubble-gum pop, that it invited girls to throw bubble-gum on the floor -- which I stepped in.


Be the One
La Da Dee
Wish You Were Here
Awake All Night
Bubble Toes (Jack Johnson cover)
Not Just You
On My Mind
All Day
Got Me Good
If You Left Him For Me
Pretty Brown Eyes


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