by Andy Lyons
Fans from across the Midwest converged on the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland Friday evening for a chance to catch Grammy Award-winning artist Lorde on her first-ever U.S. tour. The show sold out in December, long before her Grammy wins, yet fans were paying prices well above $300 to make it to the show.
Although it’s no secret that I prefer heavier music, I have been a fan of Lorde’s music since Kansas City producer Joey Sunday played the album in the weeks before the artist’s popularity exploded. Her rich vocals with a seemingly minimal production coupled with lyrics I could identify with made me a fan from the first note.
I did feel out of place to a certain extent, as throngs of scantily clad teenage girls made up the bulk of those in attendance. I felt better to know I had friends my age in attendance, but it was my first pop music concert so I knew to expect the younger crowd.
Opener Lo-fang started the night off with their interesting setup, which includes singer/guitarist/violinist Matthew Hemerlein, a drummer and a keyboardist. Their music reminded me a bit of Explosions in the Sky, and I was immediately drawn to it. There are a lot of instrumental bits, and Hemerlein masterfully played the violin. Vocally, Lo-fang sounds a lot like John Mayer but mixed with the electronic sound it comes together really well.
Lorde hit the stage to a chorus of teenage screams, an ovation that reverberated off the façade of the Midland. And she was truly surprising.
Her thick vocals, backed by a drummer and keyboardist, were brilliant to witness live. A lot of her songs build tension with a slowly increasing tempo that builds anticipation for a crescendo. The light show that accompanied her music only made the show that much better, with the timing of the lights tied to the bass or her vocals. Between each song the group on stage would go completely silent, and the Midland was filled with applause each time.
It was nice that she included a couple of cover songs, which I had never heard. The crowd was continuously singing along yet remained tame. I anticipated a lot of dancing in the general admission floor area of the Midland, yet it was only small groups getting into the music.
Late in the set, the opening vocals to her song “Ribs” played on repeat as Lorde told the story behind the creation of the song. It was the best part of the show, with a famous young lady getting personal with her fans. She told of a house party she threw, “one where everything comes out of the refrigerator for dinner at 4 a.m.” And the best part of her story was the realization she was becoming an adult.
“The idea of stepping into the adult world, that scares me,” she said with her thick New Zealand accent. “I’m really scared about getting older.”
It really hit a chord with me. As a grad student, my future is on the horizon and it reminded me of that innocence involved with being a teenager, as Lorde is only 17. After her brief monologue, I had tears in my eyes as she jumped into the song.
One of the loudest ovations of the night came in the next song, “Royals.” A picture Lorde saw of Kansas City Royals’ George Brett signing baseballs is part of the motivation for the pop star’s hit single.
Another thing that really stood out is Lorde’s notorious jerky dancing and gyrations. After the show a friend in attendance said it was weird, but I think it’s awesome. Seeing her live on stage dancing to her own tunes just shows she’s a person. I’ve been caught in many awkward dances in my living room just losing myself to music. I think it’s great that she doesn’t hold back while she’s doing her thing.
While the set was a bit short, I wasn’t surprised as Lorde’s debut album “Pure Heroine” isn’t even an hour long. It was a surprisingly good show, and I left with an even greater respect for this young artist.
Editor’s Note: An expanded gallery of photos from the Lorde show is available here.