Photos by Bruce Matlock
Alex O’Connor, aka Rex Orange County, asked the crowd to go higher than a mile high during his first Denver, Colorado, performance on the 24th of January. The sold-out Fillmore Auditorium happily accepted the challenge.
He has had an undeniably excellent year, his twenty-first on the planet. He released his third full length album, Pony, played to sold-out crowds in venues normally reserved for more established acts, and Rex Orange County is appearing high on the poster for 2020 music festivals like Coachella. With all of that said, his music features a sadness and self-doubt beneath the cheery sounds of the horn section. There is a search for belonging that is a large part of the appeal to generations who feel the world hasn’t allowed a place yet for them… yet. Like his fans, the band pushes forward to change anyway.
With no opening act, the band took the stage surrounded by clouds that served as backdrop to the first third of the set. Thousands of phones went up, much like the band’s trajectory. The intense fanbase danced through earworm tracks off Pony like “Face to Face” as well as earlier tracks that he never got to play for a Denver audience from 2017’s Apricot Princess.
The second third of the evening saw a curtain fall between O’Connor and the rest of the band, leaving him alone to face the 3,900 faithful. A cover of Alicia Keys’ “No One” stood as a monument to the lengths one might be willing to go for love. Following that were his own takes on the passion of young love and related fear of isolation in the form of “Corduroy Dreams” and “Happiness.”
The curtain would soon drop to reveal a giant inflated pony along with a backdrop of stars. The crowd reflected those stars with the lights of their cell phones, which the band encouraged, unleashing the full force during “4 Seasons.”
It was at this point of the night that O’ Connor asked the crowd to take things to the next level and fully embrace the evening together. Stopping midtrack during “Best Friend,” he requested the crowd “just for a moment,” pocket their phones and be with him. Finally, with everyone’s complete attention, the best moment of the night arrived as the entire crowd danced and joyfully leapt along with the band, free of the pressure to gather likes and instead gather life. | Bruce Matlock
Photos by Bruce Matlock. Click to enlarge.