If doubts existed about the ability of a rock opera to translate from the recording studio to the resonating acoustics of Wesleyan’s own Memorial Chapel, let them be dispelled. Christopher Owens, formerly of the indie-beach-punk duo Girls, brought along a posse of eight other musicians to perform the entirety of his recent solo album, Lysandre, to a full and surprisingly attentive crowd.
Mara Connor (Wes/Vassar ’13) opened the show with an enjoyable acoustic set, bringing Henry Hall ’14 to add electric guitar and some rock flair for a few songs. After Connor ended with a cover of one of Owens’ own tunes, the golden-haired Adonis himself came onstage to sing about, well, girls.
Lysandre, of course, is really only a rock opera in form, not length. Owens and company plowed through the album in little over a half hour. Although the 11 album tracks differentiate themselves well enough along the California pop-rock spectrum, the simple but versatile “Lysandre’s Theme” reprises throughout in the keyboard, sax, flute, and guitar parts. Album highlights “New York City” and “Here We Go Again” were the most energetic and successful performances, while the awkward am-I-a-bad-songwriter tune “Love Is In The Ear of the Listener” was the only down moment in the set.
Also notable was the complete lack of stage banter, with Owens transitioning seamlessly from track to track without mention of song title or even a “How are you doing tonight, Wesleyan?” shout-out. After the traditional leaving-the-stage-so-you-think-we’re-done-but-we’re-not shtick, Owens performed a handful of well-picked cover songs with his full band behind him: Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” Paul Simon’s “The Boxer,” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” all came out pitch-perfect, and they fit well with the evening’s vibe.
Owens ended the sub-hour-long performance by distributing about a dozen white roses to the majority of boys and girls in the first row. I was not bitter at all that he passed me over.