Rex Orange County performs hits, new and old

Photo by Taylor Gray, Student Publications

Last week, on Feb. 27, indie singer-songwriter Rex Orange County performed to an overzealous crowd at the Tabernacle. Though he is just 21, he has taken the world by storm and recently released his third studio album “Pony.” This was his first time performing in Atlanta, so thousands of fans came out to support him at this long-awaited appearance. The audience was unsurprisingly composed of a younger crowd and their energy was extremely high prior to and during Rex’s performance.

Rex Orange County garnered recognition in 2016 when he uploaded his album “bcos u will never b free” to SoundCloud. After gaining the attention of musician Tyler the Creator, Rex was featured on his 2017 album, “Flower Boy.” Rex Orange County is known for his half spoken-word, half singing style and basement sound production.

One of the best aspects of the show was the fact that there was no opening act. Rex took the stage right before 9:00 p.m. and played a 90 minute set. His performance opened with his recently released single “10/10.” He sat behind a standard electric keyboard for much of the show, then later behind a Fender Rhodes piano. The latter gave his music a deep, rich sound. 

Rex’s stage presence is similar to someone performing at a school talent show. His nervousness came across as endearing and drew the audience in closer. He wore oversized jeans, an untucked button down shirt and a loose tie that made him seem like an average guy that anyone could relate to.

The following song “Apricot Princess” featured a flute and trumpet solo. This old fan favorite put Rex’s unmatched tone on full display. Although he does not have an expansive vocal range, he made up for it with his lyrics and delivery. Another standout performance was that of “Pluto Projector” off of his most recent album “Pony.” During this song Rex moved from behind the piano and to the other side of the stage with an electric guitar in hand. At the end of the song, the backdrop went from a field sprinkled with sparse yellow flowers to an LED light show featuring a stage-sized cartoon pony.

After the stage set change, Rex covered Alicia Keys’s soulful “No One.” It was a beautiful rendition of a well known song. Rex whistled at the end, putting a spin on the song and making it completely his own.

One of the best parts of the show was when he sang “It Gets Better.” This upbeat song got the crowd on their feet and was hands down the grooviest song on the setlist. The flashing LED pony also helped create the perfect dance atmosphere.

Arguably one of Rex Orange County’s most popular songs, “Sunflower,” was performed as one of the last few tunes of the concert. It was obvious that this was the song the audience was waiting for — the crowd shouted the lyrics over Rex’s vocals. The second to last song Rex performed was “Best Friend,” which was also met with great enthusiasm from the crowd. The show came to a close with upbeat pop song “Loving is Easy.” For those that are mostly unfamiliar with Rex Orange County, this was likely one of the few songs they knew. It seemed as though every single person in the audience knew the words to this track.

Rex Orange County put on a show that was definitely worth the years long wait. His setlist was phenomenal and incorporated songs across his three albums. The order of his setlist was also very well-done and managed to keep new and old fans engaged. Hopefully it will not be too long until he touches down in Atlanta again, but until then check out his newest studio album “Pony.”