Briston Maroney plays Heaven

Briston Maroney performed “Ultrapure” in Heaven at The Masquerade. The indie rock artist has attracted a devoted fan base ever since his first song went viral. // Photo courtesy of Tyler Krippaehne

On Mar. 1, Heaven at the Masquerade became “Paradise” thanks to indie darling Briston Maroney. With long, dyed hair, a sticker-covered Fender Telecaster and his perfected indie-rock twang, Maroney is the epitome of a modern rockstar. 

Over the last seven years, Maroney has made a splash in the music industry and attracted a devoted fan base to his cause. His 2018 song “Freakin’ Out On the Interstate” went viral during the Covid pandemic and gained him an instant connection with a Gen Z audience. He followed the song with a series of EPs and an album called “Sunflower” in 2021. Most recently, he released his second album, “Ultrapure,” and has set out on tour across Europe and North America.

Before Maroney’s sold-out show in Atlanta, country singer Willow Avalon took to the stage in a long dress to play a set. The self-described Southern belle instantly charmed the audience with her mesmerizing voice and calming demeanor. Particularly, “Honey Ain’t No Sweeter” was the perfect showcase of Avalon’s timeless country drawl and intricate instrumentation, and “Gettin’ Rich, Goin’ Broke” brought some groovy, jazz bass lines into the mix.

Avalon took the opportunity to introduce herself to the audience. The Georgia native had released her debut album “Stranger” just the day before. 

The highlight of her set was a cover of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” The song suited her range perfectly, and it had the entire audience singing with their whole chests along with her.

Following Avalon, indie rock band Snarls pranced onto the stage. The Paramore-esque band calls their music “Ohio lover girl rock,” and that could not be more accurate as they graced the stage with angsty tunes of unrequited love and heartbreak.

The band played the grungy, head-banging song “For You” as well as “Heavy Drinker,” which they called “an ode to bartenders.” They then announced to the audience that their new album “WITH LOVE” comes out May 3 and proceeded to play a handful of tracks from it.

As soon as Snarls exited the stage, a chant arose from the crowd: “Briston! Briston! Briston!” Sure enough, he and his band quietly took to the stage as anticipatory ambient music played in the back. 

All at once, the stage exploded with light as the opening melody of “Body” sounded, and Maroney began to sing, “Taking lots of reckless drives to ease the edge of reckless minds / I never thought that I would feel this close to myself.” The song is a musical embodiment of adolescence, and Maroney perfectly captures the wild freedom and inherent joy of being a teenager.

Behind Maroney was a backdrop resembling the ocean. Two huge eyes stood out from the rest of the set and they peered up at a heart that floated above Maroney. Starfish adorned each side of the bizarre set, and they seemed to watch the audience with gleeful fervor.

The second song of the night was “Small Talk,” and every single soul in the venue passionately sang along. Maroney put all his energy into his performance, throwing his head back and forth during the guitar solo. 

A surprising standout from the night was “Sink;Swim.” Maroney introduced the song saying, “I say this song is about something different every night, but tonight it feels applicable to the feeling of not having any idea what is going on.” 

During the song’s outro, Maroney traded in his guitar for drumsticks, and he was met with eager cheers from the audience as he ended the song playing the drums. 

Maroney has a proclivity to pair his wild, guitar-heavy tunes with wholesome lyrics that beg to be sung at full volume. During “Paradise,” the entire venue yelled, “Lovin’ is the only thing that’s never gonna change” and “Freakin’ Out On the Interstate” saw the crowd shout, “Love is what you deserve.”

After announcing that it was his final song of the night, Maroney sang “Rose” without the rest of his band. He serenaded the venue with the slow, six-minute-long song, and the audience fell into a state of captivation, left with no choice but to watch Maroney with wide eyes and quietly whisper the lyrics to themselves.

After the song, the calm atmosphere lifted as the venue overflowed with raucous cheers and calls for an encore. Maroney gave in and returned to the stage to sing the final song “Delaware” with just his acoustic guitar. 

As the final notes of the song faded out, Maroney thanked the audience profusely for their support and left the stage.

Maroney’s ability to milk the audience’s enthusiasm and energy is unlike any other artist. He is truly unmatched in the genre he created for himself, and his originality is a beacon for new fans. 

Heaven at the Masquerade sure lived up to its name Friday night. 

Briston Maroney’s innovative, engaging music and lively stage presence created an extraordinary and ethereal environment for his concert-goers to bask
in for the evening.