Most of us know the feeling of waiting in line right before a concert, energy coursing through the crowd as we stand on tiptoes to get a peek inside the doors. Lyrics in our head, melodies in our hearts, glitter on our cheeks. Strangers with at least one thing in common: a shared passion for music.
Standing in line for Lauv’s ~how I'm feeling~ tour was just as magical. As the audience waited, a ziplock bag containing blue paper hearts was passed down the line. Written on the bag in Sharpie were the words, "TAKE ONE, PLACE OVER FLASHLIGHT DURING 'BREATHE.'" The blue hearts kept the crowds chattered with anticipation as "Breathe" is one of Lauv’s most emotional songs, focusing on both devotion and distance.
Blue has become one of Lauv’s signature colors. Early in his career, he released songs individually with different blue objects centered in a white background—a blue rose or a blue toy car—and his first album cover features his logo dripping in blue paint. He even dyed his hair blue earlier this year. Many assume that he used blue in a conventional sense, alluding to its connotation of sadness. His concert revealed that the emphasis on the hue means so much more.
Right outside the doors to the concert floor were two blue booths entitled “My Blue Thoughts.” In an Instagram post, Lauv explains the interactive display as a “place to say whatever is on your mind, to get something off your chest, to let go of something that’s weighing you down.” It began as a box in which guests could put anonymous notes and has grown into a platform where audience members are able to record audio or type anything, pair it with an anonymous silhouette, and share it globally on mybluethoughts.world. One of his songs, “Superhero,” is based off of one of these notes, which speaks to the connection that Lauv is able to foster with his audience. Lauv’s tour is explicitly about mental health awareness, aiming to normalize conversation surrounding it and to prevent isolation by creating a welcoming, unashamed, and encouraging community.
The opener, bülow, was a woman with a refreshingly strong sense of self-assuredness in her unique musical style. Her style was reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s, with an outfit comprised of a sweatshirt, baggy pants, and a low-billed hat, but her sound felt richer and more grounded than Billie's. The songs “Get Stüpid” and “Not a Love Song” were particularly engaging. As she jumped around on stage, shared in drumming with her bandmate, and got the crowd to dance along, anyone could see that she was simply having fun and the audience was right there with her.
Lauv made his entrance with a newer song, “Drugs and the Internet,” which contains cynical yet meaningful undertones. He was ready to be truly vulnerable with the crowd from the first moment he entered the stage. After the release of his first album, I Met You When I Was 18, he took a bit of a hiatus due to his diagnosis of clinical depression and OCD. Most of the songs in his new album will center around his internal struggle with treatment, and how he finally acknowledged his disease and sought help.
In the middle of the concert, Lauv stopped singing and went offstage, leaving the audience alone to watch words fill the screen and his voice coming over the speakers. He spoke on his experience with depression in hopes that it would keep others who are enduring the same from feeling alone. In the audio, he explains the voice in his head that made him “question everything about [his] identity,” and how he found himself “climbing out of the hole” after opening up to therapy and medication, despite his past sense of defeat.
“I realized that mental health needed to be approached like any physical illness or ailment, and that when you’re suffering, it doesn’t always make sense,” he said. “I found that opening up to the people around me was the best decision I ever made. It’s all an ongoing journey, but there are ways to manage it and stay in a good place.”
Although the full ~how I'm feeling~ album will come out in March 2020, Lauv has already released several songs. Referring back to color, the new album cover is a striking picture of him sitting in all white against a white backdrop, surrounded by miniature Lauvs, who are all dressed in different colors. He explained that each has a different part of his personality attached and, laughing along with us, listed each: the one in red is “spicy Lauv,” the blue is “hopeless romantic Lauv,” the green is “goofy Lauv,” the orange is “f**k boy Lauv,” and so on.
“Basically, the whole thing is about identity,” he said, “and how I believe we are whatever we want to be any given day…we’re humans, we’re diverse, we’re very complicated, so we should be able to be whoever…we want to be.” Combining the two albums for his concert was clever, as it allowed him to sing old favorites while keeping sights set for the horizon.
Asking for the audience’s complete silence, he sang a soft, acoustic song that had never been performed before, with only his guitar as accompaniment. As he strummed the chords and stepped into such a raw moment, the audience seemed to melt into the floor, each breath and heartbeat becoming one as the music resonated with us all at once. This solidified the point of the concert, acknowledging that no one is alone in the battle of mental health.
Throughout most of Lauv’s performance, graphics flickered on the screen behind him: goofy sims avatars dancing throughout his song “Sims,” kaleidoscopes of neon colors and shapes, a lone car driving down a desolate highway—each adding an interesting vibe to the songs without taking away from his performance. He seemed so down to earth and sincere, overwhelmed with gratitude for the audience and their positive reception of his songs. He told the audience that he began writing songs at age 13, and that before this tour he was playing at much smaller venues. He still finds it unbelievable that people know the words to his songs, and he kept abashedly referring to his self-proclaimed awkwardness, which only made him more relatable.
Out of all the spectacular graphics, vibrant color and striking lights, stripped down to its core, the heart of the concert lay in mental health awareness and meaningful human connections. It was amazing to see a show that has purpose. Music is a brilliant and powerful platform on which to speak about these issues, especially when the audience is comprised of young people who are susceptible to these struggles.
At the end of the concert, Lauv picked his head up from the mic, faced the audience, and simply said, “I will never forget tonight.” From the audience’s beaming faces as the lights came up, it seemed that this was something everyone could agree upon.