In his performance at the 9:30 Club on Feb. 6, emerging electro-pop artist Lauv, otherwise known as Ari Leff, showed off his phenomenal falsettos and suave dance moves to capture the crowd’s attention — and keep it. For the night, Lauv wore his heart on his blue Freddy Krueger-esque sweater sleeve, bringing his sentimental lyrics to life for a show that was equal parts emotion and energy.
Lauv began his set by teasing the audience with just the opening lines of “I Like Me Better,” from 2017 eponymous EP, before launching into his first full-fledged number, “Paris in the Rain,” a single released the same year. For the performance, Lauv cheekily held an umbrella while echoing the romantic lyrics, “Anywhere with you feels right / Anywhere with you feels like / Paris in the rain.”
From there, the 23-year-old singer launched into “Comfortable,” a song exploring the frustrations associated with complacency in relationships. He then surprised the audience with a new release titled “Paranoid.” The edgy, minimalistic track brilliantly juxtaposed Lauv’s smooth vocals with heavy drums, differentiating it from the softer singles he is known for.
The remainder of the concert was marked by a back-and-forth exchange between dance hits and bluesy ballads. A jazzy, yet relaxed, rendition of his 2015 track “Reforget” was immediately followed by a carefree house number, “A Different Way,” which Lauv produced with DJ Snake in 2017.
Although these two songs express the range of emotions one feels after a breakup, from anger to anticipation, Lauv managed to maintain a lighthearted attitude and encouraged members of the crowd to put their hands up and jump to the music.
One of the night’s standout performances was “Easy Love,” a tropical lo-fi number about make-up sex, according to Lauv. The syncopated rhythm and honest lyrics resonated with the crowd, which bopped along to Lauv’s guitar break and haunting vocals.
Credit for the concert’s success should also go to Lauv’s opening act, Ashe, who warmed up the crowd with her ’70s-inspired ensemble, sweet raspy vocals and organic movements. Self-characterized as weird, Ashe, with the help of her witty drummer Tim, encouraged the audience to leave its worries outside the club and to seek protection and love in the night’s music.
Lauv piggybacked on Ashe’s openness, pulling out all the stops to make the dark walls and crowded space of the 9:30 Club feel warm and intimate. Blue, purple, pink and orange lights illuminated the stage, highlighting Lauv as he transitioned from the guitar to piano to singing a capella.
Before concluding the show, Lauv took a few moments to thank his audience for attending. He recalled his last performance in Washington, D.C., when he played to a small crowd in a restaurant’s basement. His awe and gratitude were evident as he looked out at the packed venue and saw his bright future in the gleam of attendees’ eyes, and began a beautiful transition to the show’s finale.
After posing for a picture with the crowd, Lauv launched into “Breathe,” a gentle whisper of a song that grapples with the pain of losing a loved one. For four intimate minutes, Lauv and the audience uttered, “You’re my all and more / But I need room to breathe” in perfect unison.
He teased a finale by debuting another new track, “Getting Over You,” before breaking out his hits for the anticipated encore.
As soon as “I Like Me Better” reverberated from the speakers, both the couples and the singles in the crowd began shaking their bodies to the beat, following Lauv as he led them through the song’s spiral of sound.
For his final number, Lauv gave the crowd what they wanted and performed “The Other,” a song he wrote with Michael Matosic after recovering from a 2014 breakup. Although Lauv was hesitant to release the track, it landed in Spotify’s Top 100 after its release in 2015, skyrocketing Lauv’s career.
The crowd’s positive reaction to the track’s distinct infusion of jazz, blues and indie-pop sounds was evidence of the song’s continued popularity today.
Although his tracks usually feature impressive production, Lauv stripped them down for the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, revealing his most genuine self. Among the thousands of love songs in circulation today, Lauv’s stand out because of their creative sound pairings, his killer vocal range and the unbridled lyrical authenticity. With his charisma, Lauv has cemented himself as a promising artist on the rise.