In February of 2018, I saw Lauv perform for the first time ever, and I wasn’t all that impressed. The songs were alright, but overall he sounded vocally exhausted – maybe because his New York date on that Winter 2018 tour was his 12th show in less than 21 days, and vocal fatigue had probably already started to set in. He was also still getting his legs under himself from a visual/personal brand perspective, so the live show production wasn’t overly compelling, consisting of a lone backdrop featuring his logo, plus some stock stage lighting. It was early in the rise of Lauv, but it wasn’t a mind-blowing start. I wasn’t sold.
Exactly 18 months later, Lauv’s scheduled return to New York was one that I went back and forth on in terms of interest: based on that first performance, did I want to see it again?
On one hand, I knew that Terminal 5 presented an opportunity to see Lauv with one of his biggest North American crowds yet, giving him the chance to go all out in front of what was a hometown crowd. On the other, would it just be a bigger version of last time, and would it cement my perception that maybe he just wasn’t that good live?
In the end, I knew I needed to find out – he did have some new bangers like “i’m so tired” and “fuck, i’m lonely” that I really enjoy, and so I decided I wanted to give it another shot. I’m glad I did, because he blew every expectation out of the water with a tour de force performance in his triumphant return to the Big Apple.
The first thing easily noticeable was the massive LED riser that graced the stage – it had to be at least 20 feet tall and 40+ feet wide. It also had two curious cutouts where his drummer and keyboardist would eventually fit, but it was behind them to open the show The massive screen also lit up around the edges the second the show started – a nice visual treat but nothing I hadn’t seen before.
What I wasn’t expecting, though, was that this screen moved – and I mean that it went in the second act of the show from 20+ feet back of the stage to ultimately covering the keyboardist and drummer in what was effectively a shadow box, just ten feet or so back from the lip of the stage.
The visual effect created by the moving screen made for a really dynamic set when combined with the variety of visuals cast upon the stage throughout the night, making for a much more engaging visual experience while watching Lauv perform.
The second thing that you could notice was how much energy Lauv seemed to have this time around. Since NYC was fourth on this fall tour, Lauv was bursting with charisma and whirling himself around the Terminal 5 stage in front of his most dedicated New York fans – the place he loves to remind people that he went to school and wrote many of his first songs, including “The Other.”
With the support of screaming fans and an entire album of new songs in toe (of which he performed many during the second act) the night was as epic as it was refreshing, a clear-cut affirmation that pop still has its place in the music world, and that still sits within the modern palette of a progressive place like New York City. Lauv’s great performance instincts really shine on stage with the pop hooks of his songs, as fans sang along to each word as Lauv continually engaged them and encouraged them to join in partying with him all night.
Lauv’s debut LP ~how i’m feeling~ doesn’t come out fully until March 6 of next year, so if you want to catch what the album will sound and feel like, be sure to make it out to one of the shows on this North American tour while you can. You can find tour dates below.