Helen Zhao

Owl City @ House of Blues – San Diego – 9/22/2012

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Photo Courtesy Adam Casey Photography

Saturday at the House of Blues—in a dark intimate building in the middle of downtown San Diego—Adam Young, who goes by Owl City, managed to elevate his crowd into the starlit skies with songs off his fourth studio album, The Midsummer Station.

From up there, the urban sprawl transforms into a dazzling needle bed of light—no longer the dirty, crime-ridden cesspool it seems from within.

For Young, it’s also a landscape of romantic metaphors—turning the usual cops and robbers chase into a cute and somewhat sinister pursuit of girl by boy—as sung in “I’m Coming After You.”

“You got the right to remain right here with me/ I’m on your tail in a hot pursuit/ Love is a high-speed chase racing down the street/ WooooooWooooWoooo/ I’m coming after you.”

Finding love in the city sure ain’t easy, in a world that Young acknowledges, has its fair share of “shy boys and pretty girls”—whom he devotes “Deer in Headlights” to.

“Met a girl with a graceful charm/ But when beauty met the beast, he froze/ Got the sense I was not her type/ By the black eye and bloody nose/ But I guess that’s the way it goes.”

It’s Rock n’ Roll for hopeless romantics—fast paced, electric, and atmospheric—punctuated by chiming beats that sound an awful lot like someone’s playing percussion on stars in the sky. Ethereal clouds of sound buoy up a candy-coated voice as Young sings of angels, rainbows, and shooting stars.

And he’s not singing alone, because voices from the crowd join in chorus to his charming music—buying into the dream, the reverie, like that heard in “Angels.”

“Living close to the ground/ Is seventh Heaven cuz there are angels all around/ Among my frivolous thoughts/ I believe there are beautiful things seen by the astronauts/ Wake me if you’re out there.”

He brings back some faith that there is a touch of magic in this world. What happened to the child on Christmas Eve, making preparations for Santa Clause?

But Young doesn’t ignore the reality that dreams often coexist with disasters—the higher you go, the farther you have to fall—as he opened with “Dreams and Disasters,” an immediate sign that we might be in for some dark twists—integrating in some of the stuff of nightmares as well.

“We, were alone, on the road, driving faster/ So, far from home, we were chasing disaster/ Hard, on the gas, til the car, caught on fire/ We, had to laugh, as the smoke, billowed higher/ I wanna feel alive forever after.”

Lots of things can go wrong in the big cities where so many people live, such as car troubles—kinks in the road prone to ruining one’s day.

But Young says, it’s not about the dreams or disasters—but the light that shines through them, emanating from the sun, a thing so much greater than all of human affairs.

That light, that glows so brightly in Owl City’s music, can pierce through some of the darkest of times.

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