By Isabelle Flener
Under the captivating, color-changing lights, rows of pews brimmed with eager listeners at Gavin O’Brien’s concert in the Benjamin Memorial Chapel on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. O’Brien’s performance was a delightful blend of covers and original songs spanning indie, alternative, bluegrass, and jazz genres, captivating the audience during his hour and a half set.
Gavin O’Brien’s journey into the indie music scene began at the young age of 12 when his father gifted him with recording tools and equipment. Little did he know that this humble start would shape his future as an indie artist. Reflecting on his early days, O’Brien said, “I accidentally became an indie artist. When I was really young, my dad bought me tools and a bunch of recording stuff, and I barely knew how to play the instruments yet,” he continued, “I always thought if I wanted to make good stuff I needed to go to a real studio, but then I started discovering artists like Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala, and I discovered it was possible to do it on your own, mix and master your own stuff.”
Accompanying O’Brien on bass guitar was his longtime friend, Anthony Andre. Andre, too, began his musical journey at the age of 12. The duo shared a humorous pre-concert ritual, indulging in Taco Bell and hydrating with plenty of water. O’Brien also discussed his newfound focus on vocal care, mentioning his current vocal classes on the L&C campus and his commitment to proper warm-ups—a practice he had previously neglected.
Throughout the concert, O’Brien engaged with the crowd, spreading positive vibes and fostering a deeper connection with his fans. “When it comes to the crowd, I always hope to, in some way or another, get messages across. Like what we did in the song ‘All Things Pass,’ because I believe and think it is especially important to touch people and reach them spiritually. The ability to relate to them is important,” O’Brien said.
This connection resonated strongly with the audience, who felt the emotional impact of O’Brien’s lyrics. One concert attendee, Janet Tillotson, spoke highly of her experience, sharing her journey from being a fan on Facebook to attending the live performance. “The first time hearing him because it was just so powerful, I could feel it even through the feed,” Tillotson shared, marveling at the emotional power of O’Brien’s music.
The concert featured a diverse selection of songs, including originals and covers that spanned various genres and moods. O’Brien shed light on the spiritual elements of his latest EP “Sure Beats Going Home,” particularly in songs like “We Woke up This Morning,” which explores the transience of life.
“It is showing the awareness of that and seeing that the most important thing is you are alive right now, no matter what you are going through,” O’Brien explained. Similarly, the song “Take it or Leave it” emphasizes the appreciation of being alive, acknowledging the beauty of existence that often goes unnoticed.
The crowd eagerly embraced these perspectives, immersing themselves in the music’s therapeutic energy. Tillotson described the experience as calming and therapeutic, highlighting the impact of the lighting and the depth of O’Brien’s lyrics. She noted that the performance was eclectic, with a blend of jazz and bluegrass that left the audience in awe.