By: Robyn Tuazon
At only 21 years old, Alexander O’ Connor is already selling out large venues overseas and his popularity only continues to rise. Better known as Rex Orange County, this talented singer and self-taught musician from the UK continues to give us solid indie-pop music. And if you’re into alternative hip hop and soul, he has elements of that too. Rex really is a genre of his own though. It isn’t too surprising to hear that he sold out Revention Music Center, considering his success with his previous two albums, Apricot Princess and bcos u will never b free, the latter which gained the attention of well known rapper, Tyler the Creator, to the point that he collaborated with him on Flower Boy. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This would mark my first time seeing Rex Orange County as well as his first time performing in Houston so you know it’s going to be something special.
When I first arrived on the scene, I noticed two things: one, there was no wait at the bar, probably because the average age of the audience appeared to be under 20. The only people at the bar seemed to be college kids or parents chaperoning their all too ecstatic teenagers. And the second thing being that the entire stage was covered in AstroTurf with a multitude of fake clouds and blue sky in the background. My initial thought to describe it was, “whimsical.” And if you’re not sure what I mean, just think Alice In Wonderland or Kirby’s Dream Land, for any gamers reading this.
There was no opener for this show, which was a little disappointing because I always enjoy a good opener and being introduced to new and upcoming artists. In spite of, once the lights dimmed and Rex appeared, all of that was easily forgotten. Donning a black crewneck sweater with the Disney logo and a simple pair of jeans, the London-based recording artist casually walked over to his beloved keyboard center stage with a full band to back him up. To be completely honest, the first three songs are a blur because I was too focused in the photo pit with the other photographers. I do remember him asking later on, “Can I play some songs about myself?” and continued with, 10/10, the first single off Pony. For this and the next few songs, a giant curtain dropped down with red and purple lights and no backup this time. As the cool kids say, “It was a vibe.”
Although this tour is focused on Rex’s third studio album, Pony, Rex made sure to include some older hits, including, Corduroy Dreams and Untitled, right before transitioning into a fun rendition of Alicia Keys, No One, accompanied by vocals and electric guitar only, to which he said right before, “This is a love song in the room for anyone who loves anybody.” The rest of the evening included a bunch of multi-colored lights, a ton of confetti, and a giant, Pony-shaped outline in the background. Huh? (The pictures will do a better job than my description).
From my observation, Rex Orange County comes off as a simple, honest, and humble guy who really just loves and enjoys making music for him and his fans. I say this because at one point towards the end of the evening, he asked the crowd, in his charming English accent, “Can you do me a huge favor? For the rest of this song, put your phone down.” I’d say 90% listened. Just when I thought these kids couldn’t get any louder, I was wrong. The entire venue exploded with jumping and cheering. Even the second floor, which is entirely seated, were on their feet, as the crowd got hyped and sang along, yelling the lyrics, “You’re gonna want me to be your best friend baby!”
Afterwards, he gave us what a lot of us were anxiously waiting for and one of his most popular songs to date, Loving Is Easy. Add this one to your playlist rotation if you haven’t yet. I would have bet this would have been the last song but he ended his encore with It’s Not the Same Anymore and Always. At the end of every concert, I pay extra attention to how the performer ends. During Always, Rex stood with his arms stretched out and then brought his hands toward his chest as he smiled and glanced over to the sax player and the band as they continued to finish out the rest of the song before making his exit.
A moment of what I can only interpret as a huge sense of gratitude. If I had to rate this concert, I would without hesitation give it a “10/10”.