Standing on the floor of Terminal 5 with my neck craned to catch the whole view of the stage, I could feel a palpable energy from the crowd as they buzzed in anticipation. Images floated across the back screen of the stage, messages like “Text Lauv” for mental health awareness and a chance to participate in a scavenger hunt with the prize being a photo opportunity. Members of the crowd were taking turns to enter the booths at the front of the entrance. As Lauv later explained in his concert, he had started the “my blue thoughts” initiative in order to connect with his fans on a more personal level. Fans were encouraged to write up their feelings and send them out to the Lauv stratosphere. Even after the encore wrapped up, there were still fans standing in the booths. Some probably had hopes that their messages would go a long way. One message, written in the booth a long time ago, said, “I met a superhero. I lost her. I want her back.” That same message is now carried on tour with Lauv in the form of his song, “Superhero”; its lyrics echoing throughout the venue as thousands of fans harmonize alongside one of their own superheroes, Lauv.
On Friday, October 11, Lauv played a sold-out concert to 3,000 people, with fans waiting to see him from 8 in the morning to 8 at night. Lauv’s first album, I met you when I was 18., famous for its songs like “Paris in the Rain,” “Enemies,” and “Getting Over You,” was a culmination of his experience of breaking up with his first love. Featuring catchy, pop beats, his songs do more than just entertain someone for three minutes. They tell a story. “Paris in the Rain” is reminiscent of an old romantic film where a lead actor holds his romantic interest in his arms dancing, as Lauv sings, “under the stars”. Instead of repetitive rhyming couplets or conventional love ballads, Lauv is taking his more naive, 18-year-old perspective on love and using it to connect with teens. Now 25, Lauv is set to release his next album, How I’m Feeling, in 2020. Having released several singles from the album already, it’s evident that his new work will be tackling deeper, more emotional topics than his previous work.
Take his song “Drugs & the Internet” for example – it’s a fun, upbeat tune that’s easy to sing to. However, upon examining the lyrics closer, it’s easy to notice how bleak its message really is. “Drugs & the Internet” confronts the contradiction between the perceived joys of using drugs and interacting on the Internet with its bitter reality. Even the melody is at odds with what the lyrics are saying, another reflection of the feelings of this generation in their experiences with both of these subjects.
Lauv’s unique voice and character was reflected in the vibe of the audience. When Lauv called out, “Anyone missing anyone lately?” and a girl cried out “I miss Dave,” we all collectively, inside our hearts, wondered a little as to why she had to scream it out loud and, possibly, maybe even hoped she might get to see Dave once more. Outwardly, we laughed. That’s not to say the night was without a touch of sadness and a whole heap of seriousness. The message of mental health permeated the night. Like with the blue booths, Lauv wanted everyone to be comfortable feeling vulnerable by telling the universe their thoughts. Not only did the screens on his stage flash messages asking people to text mental health awareness to 33222, but Lauv also personally addressed the audience. With a series of black screens and white text, Lauv described to us his contemplative journey after the release of his first album. He suffered depression and recounted the time that he confined himself to a bed for a whole month, crying more often than not.
Realizing that he could not overcome his mental state without assistance, he wrote his song, “Sad Forever.” For me, what struck the hardest was the line, “I don’t wanna be medicated.” As much as the world today supports mental health and getting the psychiatric help you need, there is still a stigma surrounding the actual treatment portion of the mental health process. It’s one thing to go to a psychiatrist or loved one and talk out your problems, it’s another thing entirely to accept that to feel happy, you need to take a pill or medication. But as much as Lauv fought it, he realized that he hated the experience of not being in control, more than having to go through the process of getting better. “‘Cause, lately, I’ve been in the back seat to my own life,” he sang, as the audience harmonized. We all hate not being in control; we even have the term backseat driving because we can’t even let someone else drive without telling them why they are wrong. We all hate that feeling of giving up some part of ourselves. But Lauv declared that if he did not have to be sad for one more day of his life than he was willing to do whatever it took.
Lauv is not developing a whole new genre of music nor is he reshaping the music industry. But he is a revolutionary, nevertheless. Too much attention is put on graphics and artistic distractions during a performance. Whatever happened to just being comfortable walking barefoot on stage and singing a song with meaningful lyrics? Whatever happened to connecting with audience members and shouting out powerful messages?
Review By: Chloe Tai