February 6, 2010
The Melting Point
If the crowd had been any thicker at The Melting Point tonight, they couldn't have called it standing-room-only as they would've had to call it standing-on-top-of-each-other-room-only. It was crazy. I ran into a friend who was marveling at the average age of the sold out crowd. He speculated that he must be “the only person drinking”. He may have been right. This had to be the youngest crowd I've ever seen at a show in Athens.
I was late for Deas Vail's opening set and only caught the last couple of songs. My impression was that they came across as a Christian act who was influenced by Radiohead's more mainstream fare. The band was solid and by the end, had engaged the already thick horde of early comers (as the show started ahead of the scheduled time).
Lights (aka Valerie Poxleitner) had the crowd eating out of her hand from the start. With a radiant smile and an apparent innocence that betrayed the tattoos on her arms, Valerie and her band delivered songs that were a hybrid of early 2000's teen pop with retro touches gleaned from the ‘80s. I thought I heard some Berlin (minus the overt sexuality) influence. When I asked a friend, “Is it 1983 in here, or is it just me?”, he laughed and said he was thinking the same thing before he compared Lights to The Human League. Whatever the ingredients, it was clear that Lights will be one of the stories that the music press will be talking about by the end of the year. She might be bubbling under the pop charts at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if she takes it over within the next few months.
Owl City benefitted from front-man Adam Young's “cuteness” from the get-go. He's clearly the cooler equivalent of a teen idol. And while the girls were reveling in Adam's image, there's no denying his knack for melody (even if much of it's borrowed from The Postal Service and Moby). As a person, Young is likable and harmless enough to the young'uns in attendance for both Mom and daughter to bond over his songs and look.
The massive 2009 breakthrough hit “Fireflies” was introduced coyly as “a song about bugs”. The whole place went up in shrieks and the sing-along was unbelievable. While Owl City in early 2010 is clearly a momentary phenomenon due to one huge song, the talent of Adam Young is never in doubt. If he pushes himself, he'll continue to unite “the cool kids”, “the teenie-boppers”, the hipsters and their parents. (Let's just hope next time that he can ditch that damned autotune!)
Chris McKay / concertshots.com
Video of "Fireflies" by Daniel Peiken of AthensRockShow.com