Photographs courtesy of Tom Pandi / Live Nation Ontario.
The air was alive and buzzing on the hot summer night of August 3rd as Echo Beach was preparing for Halsey and her supporting act, Oh Wonder, to bring the Badlands to Toronto.
Oh Wonder, the dynamic indie-pop duo who have been making waves in the music industry with their harmonic dreamy music were all set to open the show at Echo Beach. Backed by a giant O-W they kicked off their set with one of their biggest hits ‘Livewire’ and from then on continued to deliver a top notch set. It’s hard to decide what the best part of their set was; maybe it was hypnotic way that the co-lead singers, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, effortlessly harmonize their vocals. Or it could have possibly been the glowing smiles and gracious attitude that they carried with them throughout the whole show. It could have even been the sheer admiration that the crowd had for the dynamic duo. Either way they were not only extremely entertaining to watch but their vocals were also almost past the point of flawless. Their short opening set made the crowd want to beg for more and it is no doubt that in a few years time we will see Oh Wonder headlining the very same venue.
Finally it was time for Halsey to emerge and take everyone on a journey and into the Badlands. As the opening notes of ‘Gasoline’ echoed across the crowd Halsey emerged on top of a huge platform in the middle of her elaborate set. From that moment on the lights of thousands of iPhone screens filming every song illuminated the hot August air. From there on she would captivate the crowd singing some of the biggest hits off her album including ‘Ghost’ ‘New Americana’ and of course ‘Colours’.
Using her extensive set Halsey swag from bars, strutted up staircases, and laid down high above the crowd on her tall platforms. Her set was composed of three blocks with the largest one being in the middle, inside those outside blocks should would swing and climb her way up onto the tallest block. There she would be backed by a gianormous screen that showed the most captivation live images. Without a doubt she has one of the most well thought out and executed sets i’ve ever seen, she quite literally uses every single inch of the stage. You also can’t help but be captivated by her stunning visuals that back up her every song. Whether it be the image of a castle behind her as she belts out the final lyrics to her song ‘Castle’. Or the animated road that moves behind her as she hypnotizes the crowd with the love song ‘Drive’. Or absolutely breathtaking part of ‘Ghost’ when she lies down on her platform and a “ghost” drifts up from her body on the screen. The entire visual aspect of the show is so pleasing to watch that you may find yourself looking at her visuals more than you are looking at her.
In between songs she delivered two of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard an artist give at a show. The type of speech that sends shivers down your spine and makes you heart flutter a little faster in your chest. The type where you have to look around just to see if everyone is impacted by it as you are, and of course they are. She preached love and acceptance and explained how her show is one where people come to be themselves. She also reminded all of us that we belong to no one but ourselves and that we are all hurricanes that no one can ever tame.
Yet despite her perfect vocals, stunning visuals, and touching speeches I couldn’t help but feel like she was simply just bored up on the stage. Giving nothing more than a well choreographed show that lacked the soul that a crowd craves while watching live music. While addressing the crowd she sounded unimpressed and unintrigued and it’s hard to connect with an artist who doesn’t seem like they want to connect much with you.
But when it comes down to it Halsey did what she came to do and that was entertain the crowd. Playing basically her entire Badlands album mixed with a few older songs and her duet with Bieber she put on one hell of a show. The Badlands are exactly where we want to stay as long as they are like this.