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KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12

KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
Photo by Tony Nelson

KDWB's Jingle Ball
With Psy, Train, Ed Sheeran, One Republic, Owl City, Cher Lloyd, Ellie Goulding, and Conor Maynard
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

If a venue hands out earplugs as you are walking in, make sure you take them and use them. With as many screaming tweens as there were at KDWB's Jingle Ball, you will certainly need them. With some of the biggest musical stars in the pop world, Jingle Ball provided an overflowing Xcel Energy Center a power-packed evening of over-stimulation and surrealism.

Each artist was given a 30-minute -- sometimes less like opener Conor Maynard -- set, so the artists are able to deliver their greatest hit(s) and throw in their new single they are promoting to the set. Perfect for a crowd that was largely made up of a generation that grew up in the iPod culture.

KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
Photo by Tony Nelson

With most of the acts coming from the U.K., youngster Conor Maynard opened up the show with a scream-inducing set. The singer flashed some dance moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson, following in the footsteps of Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake, while singing his biggest hit, "Vegas Girl."

It was meant to have the bigger stars later in the evening, so it was a little confusing to have Ellie Goulding on next (later it was found out that it was due to her having to catch a flight to London). The delicate-voiced singer looked amazingly fit in a muscle shirt with a sequined bra. She was able to show young girls that sex appeal doesn't have to come in the form of a Victoria's Secret model while singing her biggest hits like "Anything Can Happen" and "Lights." Closing with "Lights," she ran into technical problems, and ended up restarting the song and performing it acoustic. Claiming, "I'm sorry. I hope that sufficed," to the audience, the singer needed not apologize. It was more than sufficient to hear such a fresh take on her overplayed song.

KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
Photos by Tony Nelson

Made famous by Simon Cowell's The X Factor (the UK version), Cher Lloyd was the biggest disappointment of the evening. If you closed your eyes, you might mistake Cher for Nicki Minaj, with her over-processed voice. Strutting the stage, the singer didn't showcase too much besides her looks, the biggest part of her appeal.

 

Minnesota's Owl City may have disappeared into non-existence were it not for his latest hit "Good Time" with Carly Rae Jepsen. Adam Young stepped onstage looking dapper and almost like a choir boy with a sweater over a dress shirt. Nevertheless, his non-threatening good looks and awkward dance moves drew cheers from his key market through songs like "Fireflies," his new single "Shooting Star," and, of course, "Good Time."

KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
Photos by Tony Nelson

One Republic brought the biggest personality to the evening with their indie-rock vibe, or as "indie" as a KDWB concert can be. Opening with a mini-orchestra on "Secrets," they ran through a quick five-song set that included their hits that you forgot they sang until they performed them like "Good Life" and "Apologize." Lead singer Ryan Tedder held the attention of the crowd with his rock star sex appeal by running around onstage -- even into the audience for their last song -- and approaching different instruments for each song. 
The band has been around long enough and written enough hits to prove that they weren't a flash-in-the-pan group. The best way to put it is: they are a talented version of Foster the People.

Ed Sheeran's appeal is a head-scratcher. The self-proclaimed ginger rose to fame quickly with his hit "A Team," a song about a prostitute hooked on drugs. Perhaps when sung to an acoustic guitar, this is pretty hardcore. Regardless, Sheeran drew the biggest ear-piercing shrieks from the audience for his three-song set, which went like this: "New Single," "15 minute beat boxing/instrument looping song that included 50 Cent's 'In Da Club,'" and "Radio Hit." Sorry girls, is this guy's fifteen minutes up yet?

KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
Photos by Tony Nelson

Although just here over the summer for Cities 97's Basilica Block Party, Train, while a little confusing to the demographic for the evening proved entertaining. The band even made time to give the audience something more by inviting "mermaids" onstage for their new single "Mermaids." While the girls -- and one boy -- were invited to dance onstage, most took the opportunity to take pictures with their camera phones and capture the moment. Even if the sound of Pat Monahan's voice makes you cringe, you know every word to every Train song, be it from hearing it while shopping at a department store or on a light-rock radio station. The commercial appeal of the band is inescapable, especially with their cover of Fun.'s "We Are Young" at the end of "Soul Sister."

 

Deemed as the headliner of the night, Psy was brought on for his one song. You could not get away from his internet hit "Gangnam Style" if you wanted to. The performer humbly proclaimed that he spent his college years in Boston in 1997 and never once thought he would be back in the US performing to such a big crowd fifteen years later. Psy said to the rapt crowd, "This song only takes four minutes, but I can guarantee you I will do whatever I can for you," leading into a karaoke-like performance of his hit complete with back up dancers in white attire. Once the song came to an end, he said, "Unfortunately, I am only known for one song," so he performed it -- again.

KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
KDWB's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 12/4/12
Photos by Tony Nelson

With the constant barrage of stimulation, Jingle Ball does what it sets out to do: make everyone there feel like they were in a six-hour-long music video.

Critic's bias: Ellie Goulding and One Republic were the pleasant surprises of the evening.

The crowd: Tweens wearing Uggs and sequins and their parents.

Overheard in the crowd: "This floor is going to collapse" during Psy's performance due to everyone dancing along to the hit.

Random notebook dump: Pat Monahan of Train writes the oddest, most random lyrics. Example: The best soy latte that you ever had, and me?


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