Concert Review: Rex Orange County Creates A Night To Remember At The Fillmore

Sonali Blair, Journalist

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Rex Orange County creates a fantasy-like experience for his audience at the Fillmore in Denver on January 24th (photos featured captured by yours truly)

On January 24th, Rex Orange County made an appearance at The Fillmore where the young British singer performed a set of his iconic hits while also introducing the songs included in his recently released album “Pony.”

Alex O’Connor, a.k.a. Rex Orange County, has played a pivotal role in the building of what the teenage sound is recognized as these days: a mellower, pop-alternative sound that is popular among many modern artists. However, the popularity of this new sound has not decrowned him of being deemed an eccentric artist. His relatable themes–teenage relationships and the emotional struggles of being a teenager in general–exhibited in his music have revealed his uniqueness has united people through his powerful lyrics. These lyrics have been recognized by many artists to the point where they were more than willing to collaborate with him, creating equally as iconic songs: “Boredom” by Tyler the Creator, featuring Rex Orange County, “Nothing” by Rex himself, featuring Marco McKinnis, “Forever Always” by Peter CottonTale, featuring Rex Orange County, Chance the Rapper, Daniel Caesar, Madison Ryann Ward and YEEBA including even more. 

Rex’s style has touched the hearts of many young souls these days, where the premise of his style of music is not only the fantasy of young love yet also the confusion and frustration of being a teenager. His inspiration for his style–an alternative, indie rock and pop combo–stems from many old soul artists, one being Stevie Wonder. This vital connection he purposefully makes through his music is why Rex Orange County is so relevant in the teenage sound these days: he somehow persuades people to connect with their innermost feelings. 

The live show started off with waiting in the general admission line–which was about a 10-minute walk to the get to the end of the line by the way–for around thirty minutes until the real chaos began. Once the doors opened at seven p.m., waves of people slowly entered the dim-lighted theater. It felt as though we were being stuffed in that theater like sardines, where people–the demographic mainly consisting of 15-20 year olds–continuously pushed in order to get their dreams fulfilled by seeing Rex as close as possible in the flesh. This concert was an all-ages show, considering how I saw two 11 to 13 year olds walking in with me and hundreds of other young adults.  After waiting around an hour and forty minutes, the shy yet intriguing Rex appeared almost casually from the stage door, fitted in a short sleeve white collared shirt under a cream-colored sweater with some light-washed jeans on. His introduction was unlike many artists I have seen; his genuine soul revealed his true gratefulness for the number of people in that theater. While walking in, he took the first few seconds of the show to stop, smile and wave to the crowd, rather than immediately getting into the music as many artists do.  

The bright red stage lights began to focus on the star immediately after him sitting down and playing his piano to his new song “10/10,” intimately connecting with the audience. After the first verse of the song, the stage lights created a fantasy-like scene. The lighting was quite whimsical, featuring a whole spectrum of lights, changing with the moods of his songs. The stage set of clouds that stood behind both the artist and his band displayed a vibrant sunset that many of us Coloradans experience quite consistently. 

He immediately followed with another one of his new songs “Laser Lights.” Rex, at the end of this performance, sat down at the piano and finally took a moment to formally introduce himself. He said with a shy and benign wave, “Hello, my name is Rex Orange County” even though everyone in the crowd, for the majority of the part, knew exactly who he was. This small yet energy-triggering hello only showed how modest this young man is, for he assumed that many people who stood before him did not have a clue who he was; I can confirm as a fanatic that this was not the case since all of the people that surrounded me knew almost every word to each song that he performed. 

As the performance progressed, Rex Orange County somehow progressively built this intimate relationship with the crowd. It can be asserted that many if not all of these fanatics did indeed form this natural bond with him, feeling as though they were being spoken to personally. For me personally, I did feel this; his talent of storytelling through music captures many into an alternate universe that allows them to completely disregard the other 3,899 people surrounding them. He spoke to the crowd as though they were his close friends which ultimately created this comforting feeling that you truly know him that way. This ability to casually talk with his audience is what makes him such an accomplished artist; teenagers like to see artists speak as so because it makes them see that we are all just human beings; this valued quality in a modern artist makes many young adults gain respect for the artist even more. 

He then moved on to “Pluto Projector,” which was one of the calming moments from the show, and managed to bring the crowd together to the point where everyone began to methodically sway their phone flashlights in the air. He has the power to do this. His music has the power to do this to people.

As Rex sang “You could blast me and my secrets, but there’s probably just no need” a.k.a the last few words of “Pluto Projector,” the young artist truly emphasized his gratitude towards the crowd by creating this solo moment for him and his new friends. As the large curtain came down, he asked the crowd in a sheepish manner: “With your permission can I please play some songs by myself Denver?” Accompanied by only his piano and guitar, he proceeded to perform an assortment of songs from his new album, his older album as well as a cover: “Every Way,” “Untitled,” a cover of Alicia Key’s “No One,” “Corduroy Jeans,” and “Happiness.” This almost personal and private set-up allowed for Rex’s true colors to shine: a man who simply loves music and wishes to bring joy to many with his passion. 

While moving into “Never Had the Balls,” Rex began performing it in the deeply private setting with the curtain separating him from the bright and energizing lights previously described. However, this all changed when that beat dropped and the current did the same, revealing his equally talented band as well as a large holographic pony to reiterate that this is in fact “the Pony Tour.” With the bright blue lights flashing, the crowd’s comfortable and serene vibe quickly moved into a high energy scene, resembling a roller coaster of emotions. The crowd’s palpable energy almost brought tears of joy to my eyes, yet considering I had not drank water for the whole show those tears were only there in spirit. 

Two songs later–“4 Seasons” and “It Gets Better”– leads to Rex admitting that he “can’t breathe” because of the altitude, but with that said continues on to ask “Can we take it even higher?” referencing the energy level in the overflowing theater of people. Of course, the crowd answered with an overwhelming yes, putting their hands up in the air to furthermore emphasize how prepared they were to meet his request. While speaking to the crowd, he eyed something in the sea of people: a large sunflower that he went to pick up and show the whole theater, provided by a fan of course. “You know what this means right?” he asked and started performing “Sunflower,” one of his more well-known songs. As he stuck the large sunflower on his mic stand, he began playing the cords for “Sunflower” where, from there, the crowd began to sing the song, showing how truly loved it is by many. Although the whole theater was off, considering that the song begins with only chords naturally and not by him singing, he still went along with it, acting as a music conductor. 

“Bestfriend ” eventually came along, making this one of, if not the most, memorable moments of the whole show. In the middle of performing “Best Friend,” Rex asked “Can I ask you to do two favors for me? Ya, the first one can I have every single person that is filming with their phone up, can you put it in your pocket now for the rest of the song?” He then went on to say that he wanted to share this moment with the audience in order for the audience to only remember it rather than their many followers enjoy the intimate moment once posted on social media; he wanted it to be special for us. His second favor was to sing along to the chorus of “Best Friend” where everyone soon started to belt out: “You’re gonna wanna be my best friend, baby. You’re gonna wanna be my beeest frieeendddd.” (4x) Jumping up and down, looking at one of my best friends that accompanied me to this show, and having the bright pink light shine on everyone’s face it was clear to me that this man can truly be trusted to form the greatest memories that will live on forever. 

As he ended this unforgettable night with two more songs–“Loving is Easy” and “It’s Not the Same Anymore”– he gave his goodbyes. Rex left the stage with his fans wanting more. Chantings of “We want more” and “Rex! Rex! Rex!” filled the air. It was clear to me and many more that there was still one more song to come, the sign being that the lights did not come on quite yet.     

 

 

Rex re-entered with a huge, almost guilt-ridden, smile on his face because he knew of this prepared encore. As his band followed him, they all honestly ended the show with one of his newer songs “Always.” He dramatically covered the whole front of the theater with confetti, where the rainbow-colored stage lights made this moment even more magical (seen in the picture to your left). 

 

 

Rex Orange County’s concert left me and many feeling genuinely connected with this young man, for his charming and authentic personality swept the audience off their feet and transported them into a world where it was only them as the listener and him, the narrator of these many relatable teenage stories. His comfort of speaking to the audience as though they were his long-time friends only resonated with people more. His kindness and awareness of where he was only revealed his modesty and deep appreciation for his life; he has a passion to not only create music but to bring people together through that music, that being one of the many things that brings him true happiness. 

Setlist:

  1. 10/10
  2. Laser Lights 
  3. Face to Face
  4. Never Good Enough
  5. Television/so Far so Good
  6. Stressed Out
  7. Pluto Projector
  8. Every Way
  9. Untitled 
  10. No One (Alicia Keys Cover) 
  11. Corduroy Jeans
  12. Happiness
  13. Never Had the Balls
  14. 4 Seasons
  15. It Gets Better
  16. Sunflower
  17. Best Friend
  18. Loving Is Easy
  19. It’s Not the Same Anymore

Encore:

  1. Always