Written By | Jon Freed
Going into the Oliver Tree concert, I had almost no idea what to expect. My coworker had sent me Tree’s newest record a couple weeks prior and I thought it was pretty catchy and interesting, so I made my way down to Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points to check it out in a live setting. After standing in a line that stretched halfway to Moreland Avenue in the pouring rain for 45 minutes, I finally made it into Variety and made my way through five hundred Supreme hoodies to the front row.
First on the stage was NVDES. To say this guy was a hype man would be an extreme understatement and an insult to his ability. Within five seconds of NVDES taking the stage, the entire venue erupted. I’m not sure if it was his incredible stage presence, catchy breakbeats, or the crowd’s JUUL-induced nicotine buzz, but by the end of NVDES’s set, every single person in the building was teeming with anticipation and couldn’t stand still.
Next up was the almighty Tumblr-acclaimed Oliver Tree. From the instant the stagehand walked on stage to set up equipment to the end of the show, I don’t think a single person in the building stopped screaming. The events that followed left me so perplexed that I don’t think a single muscle on my face moved for the rest of the night.
After about five minutes of stagehands getting everything ready onstage, the lights finally dimmed and switched to an over saturated low blue light as the beginning of Darude’s “Sandstorm” began blasting over the speakers. The keyboardist and drummer took the stage dramatically, and moments later Oliver Tree wheeled himself front and center in a wheelchair with a microphone and GoPro attached.
The crowd went absolutely insane as “Sandstorm” faded out and Tree began singing the opening words to “Forget It,” a collaboration with the artist Getter that brought him into the public eye. For the next 45 minutes, Tree kept the crowd engaged with his disgustingly catchy and well-composed sing-a-longs and his theatrical wardrobe changes and renditions of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” He then wheeled himself off the stage, only to come back on moments later without his wheelchair to perform my personal favorite, “Introspective,” the opening track off his 2019 release Do You Feel Me? as an encore.
Afterwards, the packed venue of 16 to 20-year-olds all made their way to the march tables in unison and I made my way to my car to process what I had just experienced. While this show was all in all completely and utterly unfamiliar and unsettling to me, I am under the firm belief that Oliver Tree is one of the most innovative, creative, and interesting artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a live setting.
Photo Credit: Jon Freed