John Mayer, Owl City dazzle Lakewood

The hundreds denied entrance to John Mayer’s impromptu concert at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, which was announced via Twitter only a few hours beforehand, had a second chance to see the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter perform. On the night of Wednesday, Sept. 8. John Mayer headlined Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood with Owl City opening the show.

During the Owl City opening, tardy concertgoers, who made up about 90 percent of the final audience, continued to file into the seats and spread their blankets on the lawn. The venue was open air with a covered section immediately in front of the stage. Several large fans cooled the thousands under the roof, moving the heat, humidity and body odor around.

It was a warm evening as the sun started to set when Owl City took the stage promptly at 7 p.m. Seemingly meant for the night with panels of stripes made of screens and stage lights, Owl City did not make much impact while fighting the sun for dominant illumination. By the end of the set, the sun had dimmed, and the full effect of the intricate dance of lights brought the audience’s attention to the performers onstage.

It still seems odd that an electronica music “project” would accompany a singer-songwriter who dabbles in rap and blues. The semblance of a band that is really just one person is the opposite of a man who is accompanied by a band. As odd as it may seem, there were plenty of fans of both, and the easily digested pop both musical acts offer ultimately can speak to fans of the other.

Adam Young of Owl City played guitar and sang for the duration of his set. He did not have much to say and did not connect with the audience. The marathon of songs was not necessarily exhausting, but it was rather dull.

The only saving graces were the visualizations, which played only intermittently, and Adam Young’s youthful, persistent energy. Owl City finished with the well-known “Fireflies,” exciting the crowd with something familiar.

Overall, there was plenty of energy onstage and true fans of Owl City likely wanted exponentially more from the show.

After a short intermission, the lights suddenly extinguished and a discerning eye could make out figures filing onto stage. The screams were deafening and louder than those for Owl City. Without any introduction or preamble, John Mayer launched full-volume into his music.

Dressed simply in cargo pants and a solid grey t-shirt, Mayer jammed. Although suffering from a back injury, Mayer was still able to excite the assembly. Considered a “singer-songwriter,” Mayer is foremost a guitar player.

His string plucking and fingers strumming is truly great, and he does not try to hide it either. Nearly every song was longer than the album version because Mayer would improvise a section in the middle of the song, sometimes for minutes at a time.

Mayer would work his magical hands and cast a spell without words. These interludes were the best part of the show.

Although not originally from Atlanta, Mayer moved here to start his music career. He played local venues around town, including Eddie’s Attic, before he gained international attention. It was obvious that Mayer enjoyed being back in Atlanta; he said as much. His enjoyment was also obvious when interacting with the audience, which he did frequently.

Mayer performed a number of songs, both singles and album tracks. None of the songs were too obscure; there were always a number of fans singing along.

Although the show was “John Mayer,” he introduced his band and gave them all time to show off a little. During the improvised instrumental interludes, Mayer would play along with a ukulele or guitar with a band member playing a sax, another guitar or drums.

After the last song, the unsatiated clapped their hands, stamped their feet and shouted for more. Mayer and his band did come out for a one-song encore, much to the delight of the spectators.

Although Mayer is not much of a showman, his sheer skill and kooky wit keep the audience interested and entertained. The show probably ended too soon for some, but it’s always best to leave a party while having fun, something Mayer clearly knows.