“The only places on earth that are meant to hear music are places like this,” Ryan Tedder proclaimed as the crowd went wild. We may have been in Chicago’s modest Vic Theatre on that chilly Friday night in October, but with the incredible energy radiating both from the stage and the crowd, we might as well have been at a sold out stadium show.
When I learned OneRepublic would be doing a series of small pop-up shows to promote their new album, Oh My My, I wasn’t sure what they’d be singing, how long they would play, or even how the show would compare to their large tours. All I knew was that I absolutely had to be there. When people hear the name One Republic, they probably think of hits like Apologize, Stop and Stare, Counting Stars, and countless others that have been virtually inescapable over the past decade. But the band is so much more than that. Tedder has been one of the literal backbones of the pop music industry for so long that you’d be hard pressed to think of any recent Top 40 artist who hasn’t collaborated with him.
After opening with their 2013 chart-topper, Love Runs Out, Tedder assured the screaming crowd that the show would be a mix of new and old songs. The tightly packed 90 minute set included Wherever I Go, A.I., Let’s Hurt Tonight, Kids, and Future Looks Good off the brand new album, and fan favorites Secrets, Good Life, and I Lived among others. With every song, excitement pulsed through the room as if it was the very first performance of the night. This was not an audience of casual listeners, but a room full of crazy, committed over the top One Republic fanatics in the best way possible.
As they later explained, the band’s success skyrocketed them from playing tiny clubs to playing much larger stages, skipping the mid-size theater phase altogether. Getting to connect with a crowd of only 1,400 was as much a special moment for them as it was for the fans in the audience. The entire night felt less like a promotional performance, and more like an intimate group hang, which to me is always the mark of a successful show
Towards the end of the night, Tedder paused to call out a fan in the front row who was celebrating his 50th One Republic concert. After the performance we’d just seen, it’s easy to see why their fans are so dedicated. While many bands fall into the trap of sounding worse live than they do on the radio, One Republic blows expectations out of the water every single time. If given the chance, I would bet every person in that crowd would jump at the chance to see them again.
For the finale that came way too fast, they brought the house down with an epic performance of If I Lose Myself, complete with a blizzard of confetti that spilled out into the street long after the show was over. The next day, I found myself wondering if the show could’ve truly been real. It was energizing and refreshing in a way I didn’t even know I needed, and I’ll be reliving it for a long time to come.
Oh My My is available now on iTunes, Spotify and in stores. For the latest news and tour information, please visit onerepublic.com.