Owl City at Varsity Theater, 7/13/2012

Owl City at Varsity Theater, 7/13/2012
Photo by Youa Vang

Owl City
With Jayme Dee
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Friday, July 13, 2012

Adam Young, aka Owl City, is learning to adapt to the music industry and playing to the still-recovering economy. After releasing All Things Bright and Beautiful  last summer, his follow-up to breakthrough album Ocean Eyes, the band played to a half-full room at Roy Wilkins last July. With a smaller capacity room like the Varsity, Young can sell it out -- and fans waiting outside the doors since 2 p.m. More importantly, this rainy evening made for a more scaled-down, intimate show where the Owatonna native could connect with his fans that crave that type of affinity.

Wearing a plain grey shirt, Adam came onstage donning a guitar and looking more buff than usual. Opening with "Cave In," a track off Ocean Eyes, he asked the crowd that was ready to cheer over anything he said -- they even cheered for the the screen shot with his name that came onscreen during setup -- if they were ready to go nuts. They were. 

Another Minnesota native, Breanne Düren, is a mainstay of the touring band. She backs Adam on vocals and sometimes contributes to lead vocals on certain pieces. Düren's voice complements Young's vocals very well, but is a bit nasally on its own. Young is not known for his voice himself, but rather his ability to craft catchy pop songs like All Things' "Angels" and of course "Fireflies," which was performed mid-set and not as an encore. While polishing his live show up a little more, unless you are familiar with his music, the pieces seem to sound the same after a while.

Owl City at Varsity Theater, 7/13/2012
Photo by Youa Vang

With it being all-ages, the set was relatively short, even with more material from his latest album that had Adam branching out on his signature sound. Most of Owl City's songs are pretty light and fun, with most talking about young love, but on his last song of the encore, "Umbrella Beach," Adam may be voicing his thoughts on outgrowing his homestate and looking to the outside world with the lyrics:

"Home will always be here on sea, out of sight
Where I disappear and hide
I think dreamy things as I'm waving goodbye
So I'll spread out my wings and fly"

Critic's bias: Owl City is better suited for smaller rooms, and I believe this was a much better show than last year's at Roy Wilkins. Perhaps the energy is more palpable in a smaller venue.

Critic's bias part 2: Jayme Dee was decent as an opener, but nothing spectacular and not able to capture the crowd's attention. She performed a song about people in the music business trying to change who she was. This is nothing new in the industry; ever heard of Sara Bareilles' "Love Song"?

The crowd: Young teens -- some on dates and some with their parents.

Random notebook dump: Either someone close to me was wearing too much perfume, or the Varsity was pumping scent through the vents, but it sure smelled like incense in the venue.

Random notebook dump 2: Since there was a curfew due to the all ages show, the sun had not even fully set when the show was let out.


Cave In
The Real World
Tip of the Iceberg
Hello Seattle
The Yacht Club
Shooting Star
Plant Life
Deer in the Headlights
Take it All Away

Good Times
Umbrella Beach

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