Huge Emotions Flood The Palladium As X Ambassadors Close Out The Orion Tour
LOS ANGELES, CA- Earlier this year, X Ambassadors released their long-awaited, sophomore studio album, Orion. Like their debut album VHS, Orion is a polished collection of electronic alt/pop that’s is imbued with thought-provoking themes while keeping the mood light with anthemic hooks. The emotionality of this album is heavy, especially on the tracks that aren’t production heavy like ” History” and “I Don’t Know How To Pray”. “I Don’t Know How To Pray” is particularly impactful because even though it’s a short song, the gospel-like melody sung passionately by Sam abruptly cuts out and is followed with a recording which seems to possess the answer: “Love”.
The band originally intended to release an in 2018 titled Joy, but scrapped that project in lieu for 2019’s Orion stating that they felt like the songs on it “did not represent where they were at” at the time. The themes on Orion are universal. From everyday stuggles, to deeper thoughts of the meaning of life, to broken hearts, there’s a song for everybody on this album.
Wrapping up the headlining portion of The Orion Tour in support of their sonic effort, X Ambassadors shared all of those emotions with an adoring crowd at the Hollywood Palladium.
The first act to take the stage on this evening was Kelsey Regina Byrne p/k/a VÉRITÉ. Touring in support of her latest album, new skin VÉRITÉ delighted the room with her alt-pop gems. There’s a certain vulnerable weight that VÉRITÉ brings to her music, but she does a good job of cloaking it with the brightness in her production.
Having seen VÉRITÉ perform before during a midday set at a festival a few years ago, I had a sense of what to expect, but VÉRITÉ exceeded my expectations. This performance seemed to have a perfect blend of intimacy and vibrancy. VÉRITÉ’s voice is innately delicate, and it floats over her subtle instrumentals until the beat or moment drops and she wails with an intensity (like she did on “Youth”) that can make the hairs on your neck stand at attention.
While she plays the keyboard/synth, I was glad that she spent most of her time on stage making full use of the stage, letting the music guide her movements. When she dropped to her knees during particularly emotional moments of her music, you could feel that authenticity shine through.
Bear Hands was the next act to hit the stage, and it had been a few years since the last time I saw them perform, a lot has changed with the group since I saw them last in 2016, but thankfully their music hasn’t changed too much. Their 2019 album Fake Tunes is a fun listen. Rooted in alt-rock, the album does a good job of spicing its tone up with hip-hop and electronic dance elements.
Lead singer Dylan Rau did a fine job singing his music (I understand that he wrote most- if not all- of the album), and his relaxed, laid back aura really set an interesting dynamic as it almost toned down the general brightness of their sonics.
This being their last show on The Orion Tour, they invited singer/songwriter Ursual Rose to join them on the song “Blue Lips'” (who performs and co-wrote the same on the album).
If there’s one thing that can be said about X Ambassadors, it’s that they put on one hell of a show. Sure, Sam Harris’ crystalline voice is definitely worth the price of admission alone, but when you pair that up with their grand hooks and the dynamic force with which they all perform, it’s a pretty solid guarantee that you’ll be enjoying the experience.
The concert was made even more memorable by X Ambassador’s fans. As I mentioned before, X Ambassador’s music tends to be anthemic in nature. That was proven to be absolutely true when fans would sing along with Sam- often with their arms over their friend’s shoulders- during some of their bigger hits like “Unsteady”. Talk about an outpouring of emotions. When a room is singing “Hold on to me, cause I’m a little unsteady,” your first inclination is to hold the person in your arms just a little closer.
I think what it is are the emotions that Sam is able to espouse so honestly. There is just an earnestness to the way he sings every lyric, and when he pulls from the power of his diaphragm to belt out those messages, it almost like he’s preaching the gospel.
Perhaps the most powerful moment of the evening was prior to the band’s performance of “American Oxygen”, a song about the opportunity and struggle of achieving the American Dream. He addressed the crowd and said:
“I come from Jewish immigrants from far, far away. We are a beautiful beautiful collection of people in this country. So, the American Dream… it doesn’t belong to just one people. As we all know, it’s a collective thing. This dream is ours.”
Then singing the opening lyrics to the song:
“Breathe out, breathe in
Every breath I breathe
Chasin’ this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen”
Not gonna lie. I got a little emotion with that song.