By Ayu Sofyan
Before the infamous ACL sweeps over the entire city of Austin and makes every local headline, I wanted to experience a more intimate concert with smaller artists on the rise. With Austin being the hub of a multitude of music including alternative/indie pop, LÉON takes the Parish stage for her 2017 tour.
I vividly remember “accidentally” stumbling upon her songs on Spotify when in dire search for new music to listen to at the moment. Shuffling through the Discover Weekly playlist that Spotify individually personalizes, one of her first hit singles “Tired of Talking” played and it only took me less than 30 seconds into the song to realize my love for LÉON’s music. With every new album LÉON produced, each song possessed the same two qualities that I adored: catchy beats and the strong urge to make me want to dance. And dance I did.
It felt like a privilege to watch LÉON’s music consistently rising throughout the years – from a hit single to being musically premiered at European fashion shows and going on American tours. I’m finally seeing the success that she deserves. (And it’s also pretty cool to say that I’ve been her fan from the start.)
Of course, with each concert comes an opening act. Right before going on stage, LÉON partnered up with another small-town artist, Stephen Wrabel. With Wrabel’s crocheted vest and hipster thin-framed glasses, all I could think was: this artist fits right into the Austin scene (despite being from Houston). Getting comfortable in my seat and jokingly pulling out the set list written on the back of a sushi receipt from dinner that same day, I could tell how unique and free-spirited in character Stephen was. Throughout the entirety of Wrabels’s opening act, the artist always explained the history and inspiration that spurred each song being played. I appreciated and loved Stephen’s transparency and openness, making the crowd feel more comfortable and at home during the concert. One of Wrabel’s bigger hits, “11 blocks”, hit about 22 million plays on Spotify with multiple remixed songs from well-known DJs such as Galantis and Marshmello. With some of my favorite songs that were played (Ritual and The Village), the artist continued lighting up the atmosphere by bringing up relatable ex-stories that no one could resist laughing, paving way for LÉON.
Coming into the concert, I actually didn’t even know what to expect from an artist like LÉON. Even if I had some sort of standard, consider them all shattered – LÉON exceeded anything I could ever expect. Let me tell you, she made quite an entrance.
She strutted on with her chunky black heels, red scalloped skirt, and trendy button up. As soon as she stepped foot on stage, neon lights flashed, the bass dropped, and everyone danced – she knows how to work a crowd. Her vocals are so real, authentic, and even better live because you could hear small slithers of her Swedish accent. Throughout the night, everyone swayed and sang along in conjunction with her vocals, feeling united. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a group of strangers so fast before because we were all there for one reason and one reason only: LÉON. With every new song, she took off her shoes, busted out a new set of dance moves, and made herself feel at home here in the city of Austin.
If there was one way to describe LÉON, it’s that she’s the cool, older, hip girl that everyone always wanted to be friends with. No shame, I want to be friends with her too.
She did quote my tweet after the concert with “I believe in US Austin”, after the release of her new song, so I guess you could say our friendship is getting pretty serious.
One of my favorite parts at the concert was when someone shouted, “we love you!” with the hook ‘em hand sign, and she questioned: “Why does everyone here in America hold up the rock and roll and the hang loose hand signs?” Following that, she asked another random girl in the audience about what type of beer she was holding because she was so fascinated with all things new – you could tell that LÉON was still transitioning and adjusting to the American culture. But just like what we Austinites always do, we took her in and loved her like she deserves to be.
Ayu’s favorite songs:
Ritual / Wrabel
The Village / Wrabel
I Believe in Us / LÉON
Surround Me / LÉON
On the uber ride home, I really had time to think and reflect on the entire concert experience and I absolutely forgot how incredible it feels to enjoy and listen to an artist that you absolutely adore – live. It’s moments like these that remind me of the experiences I need to cherish and hold onto during my youth. At the end of the day, concerts fade, but memories don’t. Here’s to a million more.
by: Ayu Sofyan
Originally from Southern California, and with dreams of becoming an ambassador, Ayu Sofyan is a second year International Relations major. She loves traveling the world until her heart’s content, all things art, and coffee, coffee, coffee!