I arrived the the House of Blues Anaheim at 10 am and sat on the sidewalk most of the day and managed to get in about two people from the front dead center. The crowd was first treated to Chargaux (Charlie and Margaux) a pair of hip hop violinists with colorfully hair and an original sound who played original songs and also played covers of a few other well known songs like “Call Me Maybe”. Their set was short and sweet but left me curious enough to look them up when I got home.
Up next was Theo Katzman who opened with new tune “Pop Song”. It’s catchiness is ironic since it questions why we’re too busy listening to pop songs to look up the issues. His next songs “Every Few Days” and “Brookyln” seemed to mellow the frantic crowd but he ended his set with the upbeat “Do As the Romans”. He snapped a string on his guitar halfway through a set and had to use Criss’ guitar to finish his songs.
The crowd stood as the band set up behind a closed curtain, every guitar twang and drum beat as they tuned and prepared their instruments had everyone screaming in anticipation. When the curtains did open and the band filed out one by one, the anticipation only grew. When Darren finally took the stage the roar of the crowd was so loud you couldn’t hear anything for a few moments. Darren began with “Circle of Life” reminding us how one of first steps on the road he’s on was playing Disney covers on YouTube. During the chorus a fan (who presumably had heard about the line up online) held up a Simba doll which made Darren smile. He asked how many of us had heard his new stuff yet, which had only been played for the first time 48 hours earlier and everyone seemed to have already listened.
He began with “I Still Think” then began the first of his new songs “Any Of Those Things” which had everyone singing along and dancing in the crowd. He slowed down next by playing “Sami” so soulfully it had everyone swooning. His next song “Picture Perfect” was up next and everyone was already singing along to the new tune. When this album is released I predict his songs will hit the top 40’s with the force of a bomb. Darren Criss has a talent for writing songs which make you feel good about yourself without feeling sleezy.
He then played “Words” and “Not Alone” a song we first heard during ”A Very Potter Musical” in 2009 which seems to be the ‘Old Darren’ anthem. Then band left Darren alone for the next couple of songs to remind us that Darren is not only a talented, song writer, actor but also a great musician (As if we ever doubted). He asked for requests and someone in the first few rows shouted out “Disney!”. He paused for a moment and then began to play “Part of Your World” which had those fan which were watching him way back in 2007 feeling nostalgic and those who saw him perform for Alan Menken, the composer of the song, feeling very proud. He messed up the lyrics (In true Darren Criss fashion) but played it off jokingly. When he ended the song Criss said “I think that’s the only Disney cover I’m going to do for the tour, but hey I’m at Disneyland I have to!”
Just then when you thought all concert cliches had been fulfilled someone threw a bra to Darren’s feet. He picked it up and said “Oh theres my bra now I can finish my set.” He found it flattering that someone had actually done it but then exclaimed “And now I’m f*****d because everyone else is gonna do it.” (That’s a hint ladies at other tour stops. Once was enough.)
The band returned for “Don’t You” and “To Have A Home”, another Starkid favorite. His next new tune “Pheromones” had every girl in the audience feeling a bit warmer. At one point he knelt down and said “Shhh” at which point every previously screaming fan dropped to dead silence and and already tightly packed crowd pulled even closer to the stage. Darren Criss has a demanding stage personality which makes you want to listen whether it’s clapping along, singing back a chorus or just being quiet when he asks you to. He finished with “Once Upon A Time” and left the stage. After a few minutes of the crowd chanting his name he returned for an encore. I doubt there will be a stop on the tour where he won’t be begged for more songs.
He began with “Teenage Dream” which had a crowd which had been out on the hot sidewalks for nearly six hours jumping up and down like it was the first song of the night. It blended into one of his older songs “Stutter” where he had fun playing around with guitar riffs and vocal runs as the fans chanted the refrain back at him. He ended with “Circle of Life” (this time sans Simba) but with such a wide smile you thought his face might split. Darren Criss seems to genuinely enjoy each concert he performs and puts so much energy into each number I don’t understand how he’s still going. I look forward to hearing what happens at each new stop of the tour and buying his album when it’s released.
All Photos Taken By Chelsea Sanders