Rex Orange County sings about love and care
There was a soft, cloudy set-up on stage as if you and all your friends were at a dreamy sleepover. The crowd was very calm and very young, in the far reaches of the venue parents waddled, waiting for those that they had to accompany.
There was no opening act, it was straight to the point. He entered the stage wearing baggy jeans and a baggy sweater, and said, “Hello, my name is Rex, and I’m going to start with some songs from Pony.”
Rex Orange County, or Alexander O’Connor, is from a small town near Surrey, England. According to an article in The Guardian, “[the name] stems from a nickname an old teacher gave him, “the OC,” after his initials.” The 21-year-old artist has released three studio albums since his debut in 2016. Pony is the most recent, launching his career into mainstream pop.
The concert kicked off with “10/10,” a song about acknowledging one’s potential for growth— that they’re not quite the best version of themselves yet but are becoming better. The majority of Rex’s songs call out to notions of love, sorrow, acceptance, and joy—the roles that exist within platonic and romantic relationships.
Partway through his set, as tears rolled down my face, Rex performed his cover of Alicia Keys’ “No One.” At that moment, it became clear that it was a song integral to the concert, and perhaps even to Rex’s journey as a musician.
The tunes that followed were from his previous albums, and had a stronger pop-feel to them. In the 2017 single, “Best Friend,” Rex recounts an all-too-familiar tale of accepting that the person you like is just your friend and having to grow over time to be okay with that because they are that important to you—that having them in your life in this way is better than not at all.
While trumpet and saxophone players took to the stage, Rex broke out into my personal favourite, “Sunflower.” “Sunflower” makes me feel okay; that I am loved and held by those I care about. That no matter how bad and shitty I feel, there will always be people who “don’t wanna see you cry” and “don’t want you to feel that emptiness.”
The song is about true love, and maybe it’s not the love you were expecting; but it’s love nonetheless. And regardless, you’ve just got to “keep [your] mind at bay” and “diggy dig down down, du du du duuu.”
It goes without saying that Rex Orange County is the most tender in the world of indie-pop. With relatable lyrics, a friendly voice, and catchy tunes, it’s hard to stay still.
Graphic by @sundaeghost.