The pop music multi-instrumentalist is not dead, and Alec Benjamin is here to prove that. On Tuesday night, Benjamin took to Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club stage for the first time, in an impressive live debut that drove fans wild.
The singer attracted a largely teenage audience, all of whom were ready to sing their hearts out to Benjamin’s songs about misery and heartbreak. Benjamin released this album, “These Two Windows,” in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown. His biggest hit, “Let Me Down Slowly,” was released in 2018 and boasts almost 900 million streams on Spotify alone. After a thirty-minute wait filled with shrieks of excitement, Benjamin made a magnificent appearance with his newest song, “Older,” which expresses his fears of growing up and growing old.
Anson Seabra perfectly set the mood of the concert when opening for Benjamin. His somber music, especially the song “Dominoes,” reflected the heartbreak that Benjamin writes about in his own discography. Although Seabra’s vocals did go flat a few times throughout his performance, his humor and interaction with the crowd created an anticipatory atmosphere leading up to Benjamin’s entrance.
Red lighting immersed the crowd during the performance, reflecting Benjamin’s music’s common theme of angst and anxiety. Chaotic strobe lights often struck during upbeat pop-rock tracks like “If We Have Each Other” and “Boy in a Bubble,” while solid colors appeared during his somber and emotional tracks.
At the beginning of the concert, Benjamin admitted that he recently got sick, joking with the crowd that “sometimes my voice will crack, if it does, just delete the video.” In spite of this claim, Benjamin kept vocally strong the entire time. Not one vocal flaw was apparent despite his sickness, speaking further to his musical talent.
For most of the show, Benjamin played the guitar alongside the rest of his band, who reflected Benjamin’s energy with enthusiastic playing of their own, jamming out with him during songs like “The Way You Felt.” The most exhilarating moments of the show, however, were when Benjamin sang on stage alone. Benjamin’s struggles with mental illness and heartbreak are major themes in the lyrics of “Demons” and “The Book of You & I,” making for an impactful performance as he belted them out on stage alone with his guitar.
When the singer switched to playing piano during “Water Fountain,” his musical talent became undeniable. Benjamin is a multi-instrumentalist, a qualification that most pop artists today cannot claim. Although his time playing the piano was short, the intimacy and raw emotion of the moment made it remarkable. Additionally, Benjamin’s use of his guitar in almost every song confirmed both his talent in songwriting and chord progression.
The singer’s interaction with the audience made the show even more special for fans. Fans were obsessed with Benjamin; a few even screamed how beautiful his eyes were throughout the show. He debuted a new track at the show, “Devil Doesn’t Bargain,” as a treat to the audience. The ambient, heartbreaking track about fighting inner demons received widespread acclaim from the crowd, which will hopefully prompt Benjamin to release it in the future.
For his closing song, Benjamin sang “Change My Clothes,” a recently released track with YouTube sensation Dream. The regretful song about wanting to live a productive and impactful life was the perfect close to the night, as bright lights covered the cheering audience while Benjamin sang with a guitar and a thumping beat. As he left the stage, the singer thanked the crowd, concluding the night on an optimistic note.
Alec Benjamin is an undeniable talent. His concert at 9:30 Club confirmed that he is the full package, with vocals, artistry and fan connection. Given his performance, there is no doubt that Alec Benjamin will rock the District again in the future.