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Carly Rae Jepsen wows fans at ACL Live

The lights just went down at the iconic ACL Live at the Moody Theater. It’s standing room only on the floor and I’m front row, all the way to one end of the raised stage. To my left, there are two little girls decked out in sequins and pink faux fur. I hear their mom tell a neighboring crowd member that this is their first concert. To my right, there is a small group of 20-somethings with drinks in their hands getting giggly with buzzed excitement. Even though the crowd is far from homogenous, we are all here for the same reason. We are here to dance with abandon. We are here to scream-sing about our feelings. We are here for Carly Rae Jepsen.

Carly Rae Jepsen / Photo by Patrick Nye
Carly Rae Jepsen / Photo by Patrick Nye

Review by Corisa Smith and photos by Patrick Nye

Jepsen made the second Texas stop of her Gimmie Love Tour in Austin this past Saturday night. It had a totally distinct feel from the efforts of her pop star counterparts. The venue was on the small side for a pop artist, which immediately gave it more of an indie feel. The concert’s opening acts fit nicely with the indie vibe. Americana trio Fairground Saints opened the show with their surprising blend of beautiful country twang and an unexpected Justin Bieber cover (yes, really). They were followed by LA indie pop duo, Cardiknox, whose higher energy music and stage presence got the crowd dancing. Every mention of Jepsen from the two opening acts elicited major screams from the steadily growing crowd. It was easy to tell that there were very few fair weather fans in the group. This was a die-hard fan’s show.

Photo by Patrick Nye
Photo by Patrick Nye

When it was finally time for Jepsen’s entrance, I glanced at the dedicated lines of fans in the first couple of rows. As she ran out on stage, the faces of every fangirl and fanboy lit up and the level of screaming honestly startled me. Her leather pants and jacket combo with bright red lipstick and short raven-black hair was a stark contrast to the casual girly vibe from her famous “Call Me Maybe” music video that introduced her to the American public four years ago. She opened the show with “Run Away with Me,” the first track from her most recent album, “E•MO•TION.” Right from the beginning, she made it clear that her near-perfect bubblegum pop voice is still intact underneath her more recently acquired Joan Jett-like exterior.

The Gimmie Love Tour setlist weaved in and out of tracks from her 2012 album, “Kiss,” and her newest release, “E•MO•TION,” which she sang every song from, plus two bonus tracks “I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance” and “Favourite Colour.” Upbeat, dance-inducing numbers, like “Boy Problems” (a fan favorite) and slower songs like “All That,” prompted Jepsen to extend her hand to reach those outstretched in the crowd which resulted in a few really sweet, intimate moments with her fans.

Arguably the best parts of the show were her short, often funny intros to some of the songs. “I was scared of LA when I first moved there,” she explained before singing “LA Hallucinations” (which includes the genius quip, “Buzzfeed buzzards and TMZ crows / What can I say that you don’t already know?”). She continued by saying that she has grown to really enjoy some parts of LA but, “Love? I don’t know…” she laughed. Similarly, before launching into the tour’s title track “Gimmie Love,” she told the story of writing this song for a boy she quickly fell in love with in Sweden who didn’t really speak any English. “I thought it was a pretty clear message,” she said with a smile, “But he didn’t understand it so this song is for all of you.”

As most artists do, Jepsen saved her two biggest hits for the end of the night. “I met some little girls earlier who told me that this was their first concert, so this one’s for you!” she yelled as the first notes of “Call Me Maybe” blasted from the speakers. The little girls next to me screamed. The 20-somethings on my other side readied their smartphones to snapchat Jepsen’s biggest hit. The dance party continued (and ended) with “E•MO•TION’s” lead single, “I Really Like You”. Both Jepsen and her fans knew this was the last song of the night so they danced with abandon and scream-sang about their feelings. After the last of the “really, really, really’s,” Jepsen and her bandmates took a bow and she left with the words, “Just know how much I love you all.”

Gimmie Love Tour Setlist

  1. Run Away With Me
  2. Making the Most of the Night
  3. Good Time
  4. E·MO·TION
  5. Warm Blood
  6. Boy Problems
  7. This Kiss
  8. Gimmie Love
  9. Tiny Little Bows
  10. I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance
  11. Tonight I’m Getting Over You
  12. When I Needed You
  13. Love Again
  14. LA Hallucinations
  15. Favourite Colour
  16. All That
  17. Let’s Get Lost
  18. Curiosity
  19. Call Me Maybe
  20. I Really Like You

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