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Concert review: Vulnerability takes center stage in Quinn XCII’s engaging, humanizing performance

Electric pop star Quinn XCII performed Saturday at The Wiltern for his “From Tour with Love” tour. His show provided a reflective space for audiences to feel vulnerable and recognize that they are not alone in facing mental health issues, along with other hurdles life presents. (Paigue Hua/Daily Bruin)

"From Tour with Love"

The Wiltern

Saturday, April 6

By Paige Hua

April 7, 2019 4:33 p.m.

Quinn XCII led fans to “Another Day in Paradise” at The Wiltern.

The Saturday show was part of the electric pop musician’s “From Tour with Love” tour, titled after his second album, “From Michigan with Love,” which celebrates individualism and nostalgia. Quinn XCII delivered heart-stopping bass rhythms from songs across his two albums. His encore went back even further than those albums as “Another Day in Paradise” is listed on the artist’s first ever EP. Such a set list reminded artist and audience alike to remember their roots and origins through a devastatingly reflective night.

However, before Quinn XCII’s breathtaking visual experience, openers Christian French and Ashe set the scene for a carefree night. French, a pop singer from the American Midwest, peppered his performance with love songs, and with his girlfriend in the audience, the message became all the sweeter. Romantic energy then transformed into an appreciation of unapologetic living as Ashe took center stage, reminding the audience that “It’s not your fault/ … Sometimes people suck.” As opening acts, these two artists perfectly complemented Quinn XCII’s honest and uplifting set.

[RELATED: Concert review: James Bay’s ‘Electric Light’ tour energizes audience with vibrant sounds]

By the time Quinn XCII bursted onto stage following an on-screen countdown, the energy from the pit to the mezzanine buzzed with anticipation as people pressed ever closer to the stage. As album art was projected on screen in neon lights, his first number, “Sad Still,” provided all the right tempos for the crowd to jump along to. Lyrics such as “Wanna treat the term ‘anxiety’ like it’s taboo/ Come off that opinion,” also brought forth the idea that individual struggles do not have to be isolating.

The theme of finding strength in the midst of struggle continued into the night, as songs such as “Life Must Go On” had fans belting out familiar lyrics about being present in life. With other performances carrying similar messages, Quinn XCII provided more than a concert, but also a space for listeners to be vulnerable. In talking to the audience, he hoped that this open perspective could continue even after the show has ended. However, such a message hardly impeded on the overall experience as spirits were quickly lifted with the next song, “Fake Denim.” It was a performance that had the walls of The Wiltern shaking as people screamed out “Won’t waste another dollar on you.”

Quinn XCII’s performances of “U & Us,” “Panama” and “Another Day in Paradise” covered the topic of relationships and the chances people take – or, more often, miss – in life. The songs, celebrations of the good along with the bad and the ugly, grounded the audience even as the beats had them jumping higher. These were real songs about issues people battle every day, but rather than trying to shove it aside, the artist infused these issues into his lyrics and transformed it into a pulse-racing concert.

[RELATED: Album review: Jaden Smith’s ‘Sunset Tapes’ shows unnecessary eccentricity but growing potential]

“From Tour With Love” did not shy away from heavier topics like love, hope, struggles and even regret. The set list took all of this in stride, asking the audience not to forget about what they are struggling with, but to release their frustrations, to scream about it and to find support in each other.

Quinn XCII announced his request of the night halfway through the show: to catch him when he falls, or in this case, dives. And at the final note of “Flare Guns,” he launched himself off the stage into a sea of eager hands. Lasting only seconds, his stage-dive seemed appropriate as he intertwined nostalgia with vulnerability: He grasped onto the opportunities his life as a performer presents and asked the audience to support him in the most physical way possible.

It was clear that Quinn XCII, Christian French and Ashe truly offered viewers a place to free themselves from the issues that come with being alive. For a few moments, no one was quite so “Sad Still.”

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Paige Hua | Arts editor
Hua is currently the Arts editor. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television Arts assistant editor, and she is also a third-year English student and Film minor.
Hua is currently the Arts editor. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television Arts assistant editor, and she is also a third-year English student and Film minor.
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