Hues of blue, purple and green filled the serene Malibu sky, mimicking the tinges of color gracing OneRepublic’s Human album cover. Helicopter cameras and drones panned the expansive hilltop, adding spatial depth to the performance and creating a 360º experience. On Oct. 27, OneRepublic performed its hourlong concert “One Night in Malibu” livestreamed via Moment House, accompanied by an outstanding string section that helped create a beautifully intimate atmosphere.
Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, OneRepublic was the master of this tranquil space, and the concert’s virtual format allowed audiences to truly take in the entirety of the scene’s serene beauty. Gone were traditional glittering and garish displays present to amaze thousands of screaming fans. With this transition to a more intimate setting for audiences sitting at home, the so-called concert felt more like a glimpse into a private moment in which the band rediscovered its own music. After the recent release of its album Human, OneRepublic came ready to not only perform their new repertoire, but also to sprinkle nostalgia with classics such as “Good Life” and “Counting Stars.”
Unlike how traditional concerts emphasize audience interaction, the concert began on a rather disharmonizing, confusing note. Opening with a French poem about the meaning of life, OneRepublic jumped right into the first song of the set, “Distance,” without acknowledging fans or offering any context. Although the event’s lack of audience interaction made for a rough start, the band swiftly redeemed itself with its excellent instrumental variation and an overall wonderful performance.
OneRepublic passionately proved its musical prowess through playing a variety of instruments and enchanting viewers with perfected harmonies. Frontman Ryan Tedder especially impressed audiences with his multitasking skills, switching between playing piano, drums and even clapping his hands as a form of a beat — all while still brilliantly singing with emotional falsetto and flawless vocal runs. Other band members had similarly splendid instrumental changes, showcasing unique variety. From playing guitar for “Ships + Tides” to immediately switching to cello for the ballad “Apologize,” the adept incorporation of varied instruments offered excitement to the livestream.
The particularly exceptional and magnificent string accompaniment added to the sentiment that this concert offered audiences the opportunity to be privy to OneRepublic sentimentally returning to the roots of its music. The band switched out its repetitive pop beats for ethereal string notes, elevating OneRepublic’s music beyond its studio versions. When listening to Human online, its songs often feel akin to repetitive, forgettable pop melodies; however, OneRepublic’s concert livestream experience truly immersed listeners and allowed them to connect more strongly to the band’s music.
While the music exceptionally enhanced the relationship between the audience and the band, OneRepublic otherwise failed to interact properly with its fans. The band did not acknowledge the audience until they were three songs in, which felt off-putting and disappointing considering the concert’s virtual — and immediately distancing — format.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be impossible — and a wasted opportunity — to try and mimic the same energy of an in-person concert. Instead, by adjusting to the circumstances and understanding that audience members would view the show from their homes, the band successfully followed through with a new way for its music to reach the comfort of fans’ homes.
Yet with nostalgia as its main selling point, the concert still excelled in demonstrating that music perseveres through difficult, different times. After almost two years of being cooped inside, listening to classics such as “Counting Stars,” “Apologize” and “Love Runs Out” provided a unique opportunity for the audience to recall an unrestricted time long before the pandemic.
The concert may have glazed over audience interaction, but OneRepublic’s exemplary performance succeeded in showing how the group has managed to last as a timeless pop band.