[Photos by Michael Green Photography]
[Review by Riley Green]
Rex Orange County’s recent stop in Philly was certainly not one to miss! The 21-year-old artist, Alex O’Connor, put on not one, but two, energetic shows at the Fillmore on Monday, February 10th and Tuesday, February 11th.
With a packed house, the sold-out show kick-started at 8:40 pm. Rex opened with the song ’10/10′, a crowd favorite based on the reaction and volume of the lyrics being echoed from singing fans. He followed it up with, ‘Laser Lights’ and ‘Face to Face’, which had the crowd jumping and dancing around to the sounds of live sax and trumpet which are featured in many of his songs. Rex Orange County’s warm interaction with the crowd gave the impression that we were all friends to him instead of his fans.
He continued with the song, ‘Television/So Far so Good’ which received a raucous cheer from the crowd upon recognizing the tune. After playing ‘Stressed Out’ the venue lights switched to a blue-purple hue as he asked us to sing along to ‘Pluto Projector’: a song based around figuring out who you are, and the crowd, teens, and college students, sang aloud, clearly able to relate to the feeling of being lost in the world.
The stage was set up as a ‘Summer’s day in the backyard’ motif but after Pluto Projector, Rex Orange County switched to a curtain, closing off the view of the band to allow a more one on one connection with the crowd. Songs like ‘Every Way’ and a cover of ‘No One’ by Alicia Keys set a slower pace for the stripped-down atmosphere. After a few more down-tempo numbers, the curtain dropped to reveal a new background and his band began to play ‘Never had the Balls’ which brought the energy back up, especially when the confetti launched. A personal favorite of mine, ‘Gets Better’, played next and its techno-beat kept the crowd moving and singing louder than before.
The next 3 songs were fan-favorite singles. ‘Sunflower’ began with fans singing the intro and Rex taking over soon thereafter. ‘Best Friend’ was paused so he could make sure everyone put their phone away. Rex spoke of how he felt it important to make sure there was a moment just for him and the fans to ensure that we would all have something special to look back on. The rest of the song was special indeed as the crowd danced free, unencumbered by their phones and social media updates. The energy was electric by the time he played ‘Loving is Easy’ and the crowd was so loud Rex himself was drowned out during the chorus. Rex didn’t mind as he insisted the capacity crowd reach maximum volume and enjoy the moment.
His last song was the final track from his album, ‘Pony, It’s Not the Same Anymore’: a slow-paced song with an important message of mental health, something that O’Conner sings about his personal struggles. There was no need for stage lights for this song as he was illuminated by the phone lights in the air. The crowd, not wanting it to be over, chanted for one more song and Rex obliged, singing ‘Always’ as he showered the crowd in confetti one last time. You can view additional photos below: