For someone who can talk about Darren Criss’ talent for hours, I’ve been staring at this blank Word doc for an insanely long time. There’s so much I could say, from his set list, to his dance moves, to this being the first time Darren has played in Dallas, I just don’t know where to start. I’m still in shock because I never thought I’d see the day that I would be at the House of Blues waiting for Darren Criss to get out on stage and perform in front of me and a room full of other fans. I’ve seen copious amounts of Youtube videos from other shows, but never thought I’d see the thing live. Nonetheless, this past Monday, there I was, screaming my voice out with the rest of the crowd.
After the very talented and cool Theo Katzman finished his four song set, he went behind the drums and, along with the rest of the band, started a rock rendition of “The Circle of Life” from Disney’s The Lion King. True to Darren’s dorm room Youtube performance days, the actor/singer then bound on stage and sung a few bars. Before, I had never heard the song done in any way other than its original form, but this one I could see on the radio.
Darren dug into his Michigan past to perform songs he wrote for various Starkid (a musical theater troupe from the University of Michigan, Darren is a part of that are the masterminds behind A Very Potter Musical) including, “I Still Think” and “Sami” from Little White Lie and “Not Alone”, “Stutter”, “To have a Home” and a song he said he rarely sings “Granger Danger” from A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel respectively. While “Stutter” was not the exact one fro AVPS, it had the same meaning and got everyone in the audience dancing.
The native San Franciscan played most of his songs from his “Human” EP. During “Human”, a song Darren wrote when he was only 15, the band went backstage, and he sat on a stool with only a guitar and his voice. The scene was a reminiscent of the young teenager sitting alone, singing the song. It made me think of what I did at 15, while this man wrote a deep, thought provoking song; I was sitting in math writing “Mrs. Nick Jonas” in my notebook. The other song he sang from his EP not mentioned above, was “Don’t You,” his “standard jazz” love song. The EP can be bought on iTunes, and includes “Human”, “Don’t You”, “Not Alone”, “Sami”, and “Jealousy.”
I decided not to watch any videos from the two other concerts he had before Dallas, that way his new songs would be a surprise for me. They ended up being my favorites, which is good, since he was there to promote them anyways. “Any of those things” was the first new song he sang, and also my very favorite, an up-beat ditty about a lost love that moved on, he had me dancing from the first note, and swooning at the chorus, “Is he gonna kiss you when you wake? Is he gonna cook on Sunday? Is he gonna love you? No, he won’t do any of those things.” Next, was a song that had every girl (or at least this girl) jealous when he brought a one fangirl up on stage to sing to her. He named her his “Picture Perfect Girl” and then took a picture with her. To introduce the next song, Darren told the audience he isn’t always good with words, this confused me, because in any interview I’ve seen with him he is very eloquent and well-spoken. Nonetheless, this song was a slow one about how words may fail him, but all he’s trying to say is that he loves me…her…loves her. After a slow, meaningful song, the 26 year-old followed it up with another up-beat song about sexual feelings and the “Pheromones” a girl can give off that makes him unfocused. This was the song we needed squirt bottles to “cool” us down with. His “last” song was one where he “broke” the rules. “I’ve learned that you never end a concert on a new song,” he told us before he started playing a new song called “Once Upon a Time” about love again.
When Darren “ended” his concert, I felt a little disappointed that he didn’t sing “Teenage Dream.” This was the song the sky-rocketed his fame and made him into a household name, why couldn’t he pay homage to that? But my dissatisfaction was early-onset, and after some chanting, he came back out and played the Katy Perry cover, along with the new version of “Stutter.” The true end of his set brought the show around full circle with a reprise of the opening “Circle of Life.”
All of his new songs are about love, which could get old to some people, but as he once sang on Glee, “you think that people would have had enough of silly love songs, but I look around me and I see it isn’t so.” As long as we keep listening to them, he’ll keep writing them.
The Glee star is very quick to make fun of himself, telling the audience “several things happen at a Darren Criss concert. One, I mess up the lyrics.” I was almost looking forward to him forgetting some lyrics, after all the viral videos I’ve watched it just seemed to be a staple of his shows, and he always pulls it off with a joke. However, he was able to pull off the hour and a half show without one slip up. He is also a very humble person. “The minute you think everyone knows you, you’re gonna find yourself very sad,” he said as he told us his name for the third time that night.
Merchandise is sold at the concert, selling everything from t-shirts and socks to buttons and lanyards. You can even buy Darren’s EP and Theo’s album, but word of warning, the merch sellers are sneaky and before you know it, you’ve bought $60 worth of items (I’ll be working that off for a while.).
The thing I loved most about seeing him live was that it all felt very sincere. He was a passionate jumping bean who was very humble, and not once did it feel like he was putting on an act. Every song he sang, every face he made, all seemed to come from his soul. He made a connection with the audience, we felt the lyrics at the same time he did.
Darren puts on a good show, and has come so far, which is what the tour is really all about, and I think all of us-whether you’re a Starkid, a Gleek, or just a Darren fan-can agree that we’re proud of the little hobbit.
Darren’s set list (from Dallas):
Circle of Life
I Still Think
Any of those things
To have a Home
Once Upon a Time
Circle of Life (reprise)