There has to be a moment in a musician's career when they feel like they've officially "made it." I'm sure every artist has his or her own definition of what that means. It could be the moment when a record label is interested in signing you. Or maybe when you get an offer to play at major music festivals like Coachella or Outside Lands. But what if you release your debut-album and less than a year later, you're touring the world, selling out shows left and right, playing at multiple festivals (including Outside Lands) AND you completely perform a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden... I think both Oh Wonder
and Halsey can officially say they "made it."
I was pretty surprised by the crowd at Madison Square Garden on the night of the show. I wasn't expecting to be one of the oldest ones there as everyone looked like they couldn't be older than sixteen or so. I almost felt like I was at a Britney Spear's show circa 2001 with the majority of the crowd being female, wearing either a Halsey shirt that was just purchased or an outfit that makes some sort of a "girl power" statement. There were crop tops with low-rise jeans, interesting fishnet tights with stiletto heels (why?!) and lots of dramatic eyeshadow and lipstick. Maybe Halsey is the new Britney?
The electro-pop duo Oh Wonder, aka Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, walked out on stage with both arms in the air and Vander Gucht's jaw dropped when she saw the amount of people who came to see them open up the show. Vander Gucht was wearing a mid-length metallic silver skirt, black tank top and her hair was in a cutesy, high ponytail (I'm pretty sure she's the most adorable girl in the world). West was wearing dark jeans and a festive button-up shirt and they were backed by the usual luminous initials of Oh Wonder. They immediately jumped into "Livewire" to open their set, which turned into a crowd sing-a-long.
My eyes bounced back and forth between the duo during each song as I couldn't decide who was more entertaining to watch. Vander Gucht performed with the most genuine appreciation and her eyes would scan the arena, cracking a smile midway through each song. But West performed with his eyes mostly closed and he couldn't hold back his dance moves and foot tapping as he played the guitar, accompanying Vander Gucht with his vocals.
Their seemingly effortless harmonies melted the hearts of everyone at The Garden that night as they gracefully went through each track from their debut, self-titled album. Some highlights of their set "All We Do," "Technicolour Beat" and "Lose It" and with each song, their "OW" lights would change colors and put on a little light show. When they played the first song they ever wrote together, "Body Gold," the crowd provided a word-for-word backtrack (as they did for almost every song). They closed their set with "Drive" and left the crowd wishing there were more tracks on their debut-album.
Oh Wonder couldn't be a more genuine, humble and charming duo. They expressed their gratitude to the crowd over and over again before walking off stage. The performance was sonically perfect - flawless from start to finish. They're touring till end of November and I highly recommend catching them live at least once. Its magical to see two artists with so much chemistry onstage with vocals that fit so perfectly together.
It took a while for the crew to set-up Halsey stage - it was pretty damn extravagant. There was nets and stairs leading to different levels of a structure. The introduction of "Gasoline" started and the crowd immediately went wild as she opened her set with a crowd favorite. There seemed to be some sort of technical issue but she played it off by saying, "It wouldn't be a Halsey show if something didn't go wrong." Its still unclear what the issue was exactly but after her third song, "Castle," Halsey started her set over again, playing "Gasoline," "Hold Me Down" and "Castle" for the second time.
Halsey continued to show her commitment to her fans throughout her 90-minute set. In between songs, she would talk about how much she appreciates her fans, often ending her speeches by saying things like, "If you're standing in this crowd, I will protect you" and "you're safe with me" - which was pretty Lady Gaga-esque of her.
About halfway through her set, Halsey told a story about seeing Ed Sheeran at Madison Square Garden a few years ago. She said although she was underage at the time, she had a few too many beers and had to take the train home after the concert. As she was on the train, she was daydreaming about one day performing at Madison Square Garden and at the same time, the train passed by street sign that read "Halsey Street", thus her stage persona was born.
Halsey played every track from her debut-album Badlands
and added two additional tracks to the set, "The Feeling," a track shes featured on with Justin Bieber, and "Closer," where she surprised the crowd and brought out Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart from Chainsmokers. "Closer" was a huge highlight of the set as the already enthusiastic crowd took their energy levels through the roof as the stage canons filled the arena with smoke explosions.
Halsey closed out the night with her hit-track "New Americana" and "Young God" and a message appeared on the screen when the song came to an end: "You can find me in the kingdom." I'm guessing thats a hint at a project she's working on but all of the Halsey army seemed to know the show was over after that message and they bolted to the exits. When I exited the arena, I felt incredibly old when a sea of parents waited outside to pick up their underaged show-goers.
Oh Wonder and Halsey both released their debut albums less than a year ago, but the way they performed at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night made it seem like they were seasoned veterans. Selling out such a large arena is an artists dream come true, and both Halsey and Oh Wonder have proved that they're definitely here to stay.