Positive Lauv, existential Lauv, hopeless romantic Lauv, spicy Lauv, goofy Lauv and of course, f—boy Lauv. These six miniature versions of Lauv, each assigned their own color, are featured standing on normal sized Lauv on his first album cover.
As Lauv introduced the enraptured Los Angeles crowd to these figures on the final night of his U.S. tour, it should come as no surprise that existential Lauv garnered the biggest cheers, considering some of his songs are titled “f—, i’m lonely,” “Feelings” and “Sad Forever.”
Lauv’s appeal is in his refreshingly open dialogue about his mental health. A few months earlier on social media, he took time to speak openly about his struggles leading up to his obsessive anxiety and depression diagnosis at the beginning of 2019. Perhaps, more importantly, Lauv also shared what it was like to seek help and the eventual upturn in his life.
As he started the process of writing his debut album in 2018, he began to have doubts about his career path and questioned who he even was: “Everyday I woke up and immediately felt stressed out beyond belief.” His feelings of anxiety and guilt ate at him to the point where he felt like he couldn’t connect with anyone. He even lost his love for music. He never cared much for school growing up, but music had been his passion since middle school.
After months of struggling, Lauv finally decided to reach out for professional help. With the right therapist and a referral to a psychiatrist, things slowly but surely improved. He rediscovered his love for music. Suddenly, he was excited about the possibilities of a new album, a feeling that he hadn’t felt for months. Lauv found beauty in the imperfections of life and, through his experience, fittingly decided to title the album “~how i’m feeling~.”
Not only does Lauv use his platform as an expression of his own feelings, he has created an opportunity for others to share their feelings. Three years ago, Lauv installed what he now calls “thought booths.” At any point in the concert, audience members can enter these private booths, a space to anonymously share whatever is on their mind. They can record an audio clip or write a short blurb.
People share everything from eating disorders to loss to depression; these confessions are shared on “My Blue Thoughts,” powered by Microsoft’s technology. Users can search for keywords and see what other people are saying and typing about it. It’s a simple yet striking feeling of belonging to ameliorate the loneliness of those “blue thoughts.”
Those words shared in the booths don’t just fade into oblivion; Lauv decided to write a song about a slip of paper shared at one of his concerts that state the now famous lyrics: “I want a superhero. I lost her. I want her back.” At his concert in LA, he stated that he simply thought this confession “deserved a song,” so he made one up. It’s a touching story that undoubtedly strengthens the already incredible emotional connection he has with his listeners.
to become the most open human i can possibly become, to create deep meaningful connections, and to hopefully inspire vulnerability in others.
and to make the best music possible
oh and to have fun ! https://t.co/efREwhvC85
— lauv (@lauvsongs) October 18, 2019
Lauv’s vulnerability entrances his listeners in a way no other artist does quite as well. Yes, he has amazing vocals that sound even better live. He kills at the synthesizer, guitar and keyboard. But his big appeal is in what he shares and how he shares it. There’s no sense of curation — just a sense of pure storytelling of what’s going on with Lauv. He “wanted to tell the story as it happened” and succeeded in doing so.
The opening song of his set list was the groovy jam, “Drugs & the Internet.” The colorful yet simplistic visual effects complemented his carefree dancing. While great visuals and vocals make a pretty good concert, his interactions with the crowd made this event special.
Lauv shared personal stories. He was once a kid who went to concerts at The Wiltern, the venue in LA he performed at. Never in his lifetime did he imagine that he would sell out The Wiltern for three days in a row. He took a significant chunk of the concert to open up about his struggles with mental health and to thank everyone who supported him through that period of time he characterized as, “rock bottom” and “some of the darkest moments of his life.”
He advocated for mental health to be treated in the same way that physical health is; the audience responded with raucous cheers and applause. He was also surprisingly honest about the creation of his set list, mentioning that he almost excluded one of the songs he ended up performing. Each song somehow transitioned seamlessly to the next as Lauv weaved a cohesive experience for the audience.
At one point, during an intimate acoustic performance of an unreleased song from his new album, someone in the audience screamed, “I love you,” to which Lauv responded, “I love you more.” This started a back and forth banter of who actually loved who more, effectively derailing the song in the middle of the performance.
Lauv got himself back on track, admitting that he “got himself into that one.” That moment perfectly encapsulates the connection Lauv fosters with his audience, creating an infinitely more memorable concert experience.
I was a casual fan of Lauv before I decided to buy tickets to his concert. Through repeated plays of his songs the two weeks leading up to the event, I found myself becoming more and more excited about seeing him. I used to be annoyed at how overplayed his songs were on the radio and how repetitive some of his lyrics were in his bigger hits, “i’m so tired…” and “I Like Me Better.” But something was different this time around.
Maybe I was at a lonelier place in life than I was before as a college first-year adapting to all the changes, and somehow, Lauv managed to communicate exactly what I was feeling and made me feel better about it. As my friend said, “I haven’t been that affected by a concert experience in a while. Something about Lauv’s songs just hit in all the right places.”