BØRNS Plays Epic Show at Madrid Theatre

Emily Chu

BØRNS is hands down one of my favorite bands right now, and who could blame me? Perhaps it’s because some of my fondest moments are connected with their music – like jamming out in the car to “Electric Love” with my best friend at my side, before and after my high school graduation ceremony – but regardless of reason, BØRNS is a one of a kind band with a one of a kind sound that is so infectious and entertaining, it’s easy for people to fall in love with them. And after “Electric Love” swept the nation last year, people did indeed fall in love with them, just like I did.

I had seen them in concert once before, last spring, when they came to my university to play a show, (Guess who was in the first row? ME.) and they were phenomenal. My friend got to meet him in person and even got a video of him saying hi to me. But I’m a firm believer that a person will enjoy watching their favorite artists even more the second time around, and I got to put that theory to the test. On July 28th, at the Madrid Theatre in Kansas City, I saw them once again.

First off, the Madrid Theatre is just awesome. For those of you who have never seen it, look it up. It’s a two story venue with an open GA floor on bottom, and a beautiful mezzanine on top. Lights are strung all across the outside of the mezzanine, and it makes the place feel magical. Everyone filed into the venue and waited for the show to start. A little before 8pm, the lights dimmed and everyone perked up with excitement…. but nothing happened. The chatter of the disappointed audience continued, when all of a sudden, a band leapt onto the stage and started to play.

The band was Beau, from New York City. It’s hard to really described their sound. Each song they played seemed to have a pouty attitude underlying it. The lead singer had a voice that had a Gwen Stefani-type feel, although the genre was completely different. Throughout their set, the lead gal danced the entire time – there was a ton of bouncing and hip rolling and gyrating in general. She would prop one leg up on the speaker and start rolling her hips seductively, and a single audience member whistled. She used a ton of suggestive gestures, and all of that juxtaposed with their western colonial style clothing. But hey, more power to ya girl.

The next opener was a band called MUNA. Their aesthetic took a complete 180 degree turn from Beau. MUNA members were in all black and white outfits, creating an edgy vibe. Their style of music was more alternative rock and roll, and from the instant they came on stage, you could tell that the audience loved them. Everyone was responsive because the band was so energetic, and obviously having a ton of fun on stage. Not only that, but you could tell that there was chemistry between the band members. The greatest moment of this set (in my opinion) was when the band covered Stevie Nicks’s “Edge of Seventeen”. The crowd went wild, and the concert became a karaoke ground, featuring the entire audience.

Even with awesome openers, the crowd is getting impatient because BØRNS is who they came to see. The time for them to come on stage came, but nothing happened. Whispers of “he’s late! He’s a minute late!” fill the crowd. Everyone is getting antsy. Out of nowhere, rap music fills the room and everyone is so confused, because that is the opposite of the main event. But surely enough, Garrett Borns and the rest of the band fill the stage, and immediately jump into “Seeing Stars.” The audience completely loses it, as Garrett shows up in some tight black pants, a white jacket, no shirt, and a choker. Everyone one singing along and falling in love. “Dug My Heart” was next up, and he kneels to touch the audience. Everyone screams and swoons, as expected, but one fan takes it even farther and flings a red bra onto the stage. “Dopamine” was next on the lineup, and Garrett casually picks up the bra and hangs it on the microphone stand. The audience is shocked and screaming, while others were dying of laughter. The lead guitarist places his leg up on the speaker, strumming – cool, composed, and sexy. Garrett picks up a guitar for “10,000 Emerald Pools” and the lights change to green to match. Everyone is screaming off of the top of their lungs, and everyone is having an awesome time. “Fool” passes, and the music gets low and quiet, and transitions into some smooth jazz music. He starts to talk, but I honestly couldn’t really hear what he was saying – something about how it’s always really warm in KC when he comes but he loves it. He winks and points at all of us, flirting with the audience, making everyone love him more. He fumbles with his jacket, teasing the audience with the idea of taking it off, and then the band transitions into a cover of a song. Within the first couple notes, everyone knew what was coming – “Benny and the Jets.” Garrett sits on stage as everyone is belting out “BENNY. BENNY. BENNY,” and lays down on the stage as we all sing as one. He gets up eventually and saunters around stage, oh so sexy, as the vocals get quieter and quieter, until he’s down to a whisper, and then the lights go out. “Emotion” passes and he’s talking to us all again, thanking the person who gave him the nail polish he was wearing and the 90’s alien choker. “Keepin’ it weird,” he said, as we all screamed in agreement. A fan passes a drawing of him onto the stage, and it’s an amazing piece of art. “Holy Ghosts” and “Overnight Sensation” play. Everyone is captivated still. The audience on the mezzanine is leaning against the balcony, hanging on to BØRNS’s every note. “Past Lives” is next, and everyone goes crazy, singing along to every note. The air is electric, as every starts dancing more than ever before. The lights go green again for “American Money.” Garrett takes a fan’s camera from the front row and records himself for a while. He pretends to throw the camera into the crowd, laughs, and then gives it back to the owner. Adorable. We all love him. Someone starts blowing bubbles and it’s the most random thing but somehow fits right in. Garrett picks up a guitar and tells us, “Bubbles and smoke aside, you guys are still amazing,” and with that, they catapult us straight into the most famous song that they have created thus far, “Electric Love.” Phones, including mine, immediately shot up to capture this epic track live. I can not even describe how wonderful this moment was. I truly can not. At the end of the song, the band keeps the beat going, as Garrett introduces each member one by one. With one last guitar run, the song comes to and end. They thank us and immediately run off stage. The crowd is screaming at the top of their lungs for an encore, stomping their feet, making as much noise possible. Personally, I was skeptical. Would they really play something after ending the concert with “Electric Love?” That just seemed so unlikely. But for once in my life, I was happy to be proven wrong as Garrett and the guitarist came back onto the stage, with a soft and bare acoustic version of “Clouds.” The room is still, and everyone softly sings along. It was a beautiful moment. Another band member comes onto stage, and the three of them joke around while everyone else comes back. Red and blue lights dominate the stage as BØRNS plays a medley of covers, including a track from Perks of Being a Wallflower, which had such perfect timing, a fan handed him flower during the track. At last, a guitar gets thrown onto the ground, Garrett blows kisses to the audience, and they all leave once again, leaving a single chord vibrating on stage. Garrett teases us a little bit more, peeking around the curtain of and waving from back stage. But then he’s gone again, and he doesn’t come back.

Epic.  Just Epic. But it honestly wasn’t just the show that made this night phenomenal. I think there’s something to be said about the people who go to certain shows. Some shows just have better audiences than others, and I think part of that is directly related to the artist that’s performing. This audience was just incredible. I’ve never been to a concert with such considerate people. I’m a little 5’2 girl, so GA concerts are often a struggle for me to actually see anything. But everyone there was so accommodating – offering to trade places with me or rearranging the people in front of me until I had an amazing view. When people left to get drinks, everyone else would save their spot on the GA floor. (WHEN DOES THAT EVER HAPPEN AT A CONCERT? NEVER!) On top of that, everyone was so friendly. And not just the ‘soft smiles and small waves at your neighbors’ friendly, but the ‘lets dance together and sing together and create new synchronized dance moves together’ type friendly. Everything was just genuine – the band, the audience, the atmosphere. Yep, BØRNS was definitely even more incredible the second time around, and I didn’t even think that was possible.

Hands down, one of the best shows that I have ever been to. Thank you a million times, BØRNS.

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