Indie pop singer-songwriter BØRNS, known for the hit single “Electric Love,” played a sold-out show in afterHOURS last Wednesday.
Organized by Northeastern’s Live Music Association (LMA), the concert was part of the university’s Welcome Week programming. The afterHOURS show was the first stop on Garrett Borns’ — BØRNS is his stage name — tour to promote his new album “Dopamine,” which will be released Oct. 16.
“We chose BØRNS because [he] had a lot of widespread appeal and [was] trending over the summer,” Peter Fuoco, senior marketing major and vice president of LMA, said. “We thought that [he] would be a very accessible artist for all the new freshmen and all the returning students.”
Borns records all his music himself with the help of guitarist Thomas Schleiter, but he plays with a four-piece backing band at live shows.
BØRNS started off the show with the upbeat track “Seeing Stars,” followed by “10,000 Emerald Pools,” a dreamy single that launched his music career in November 2014. The band then transitioned into BØRNS’ recent singles “Past Lives” from EP “Candy” and “The Emotion.”
Still a relatively new artist with limited discography, BØRNS filled out the middle of his set by playing a series of covers. This included Led Zeppelin’s “Four Sticks,” which allowed him to demonstrate his vocal range, and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” which showcased the inspiration of his ethereal sound.
“My folks listen to The Turtles and The Zombies and The Beatles and Bowie, stuff like that, and those guys are the reason I am doing music,” Borns said.
The audience couldn’t fully relate with the two dated covers, however.
“I was super into it, but a lot of people were really confused the whole time,” Heather Leahy, a sophomore chemical engineering major, said.
BØRNS brought the evening back with a cover of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party.” Encouraging the crowd to sing along, he brought the audience to full energy.
The set list featured new songs “American Money” and “Broke,” both of which are from his upcoming album.
“I have been trying to finish this album while I’m on the road and it has just been craziness,” Borns said. “[‘Dopamine’] is kind of a homage to a lot of like, 60s and 70s psychedelic world. All the production is very new, but it has a lot of classic kind of modern feel. I feel like it is a classically melodic, fun, sensual album.”
BØRNS finished off with his most popular song, “Electric Love,” which got the entire crowd going crazy again and brought the show to a high-powered close.
Despite his recent rise in popularity, BØRNS is still fairly new to the music business.
“I never expected to do music as a career,” Borns said. “I went to film school for a little bit and was planning on doing that, and then I started interning with a filmmaker and we were making music videos for me and then music kind of took hold.”
The concert was a success for the Live Music Association. Over 1,000 people responded to the Facebook event, and the number of people in line before the show far exceeded the venue’s 276-seat capacity.
“I think we got [him] at the perfect moment,” Joe McGurk, senior computer science major and president of LMA, said.
“He seems to have a lot of good shows coming soon, so I think we got him right… before he breaks into the super mainstream and it is too expensive for us to afford in afterHOURS.”
Based on her experience at this show, Leahy believed that BØRNS’ career is ready to take off.
“No other male artist sounds like him,” she said. “He has a very niche sound, but it’s so widely liked. He’s going to go places.”
BØRNS is returning to Boston Oct. 20 to play at the Sinclair, and the band will be touring the U.S. throughout the fall.