OneRepublic at The Woodlands, 8/22/2014
Photos by Violeta Alvarez
OneRepublic Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 22, 2014
Before One Republic was about to play "Preacher," a song from their latest album about lead singer Ryan Tedder's preacher grandfather, Tedder gave us a little background on his childhood and what it was like living under the eyes of a devout religious elder. He told the crowd, "If I could describe preachers with one word, it would be 'consistent'. They are consistent in everything they do."
OneRepublic is pretty consistent, too.
As a band, OneRepublic seems to stay out of the spotlight. We never see them in the news, never see any controversial interview quotes -- they're just that kind of band. However, the medium most friendly to OneRepublic is the radio, and people may not realize how prevalent their music has been on the Top 40 airwaves for the past five or six years.
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The Colorado-formed band has a lot of hits: "Apologize," "Counting Stars," "Love Runs Out," "Good Life," "Stop and Stare," "Secrets" and more. As they played to a full Woodlands Pavilion crowd Friday night, I was surprised how many songs I knew.
The secret to OneRepublic's muted yet explosive success is lead singer Ryan Tedder, whom many people may not know spends a big chunk of his time writing songs for other pop stars. This trend, writing for other people being a pretty big pop act in your own right, has sort of become a thing in 2014 with breakouts like Sia rising up the charts, but Tedder is in a league of his own.
Having written huge hits like Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone," Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It" -- seriously, check out the full list -- he is definitely up there with full-time songwriters like Dr. Luke and Max Martin as one of the most renowned and accredited go-to men in pop music. It wouldn't be bad to have an ear like his, huh?
Simply put, Tedder is a musical genius, and as he played undiscovered protégé-level piano riffs and hit vocal runs that seemed like they came straight from the gods above and into his lungs, the crowd tuned in more and more.
OneRepublic's show had tons of different elements mixed in. Some of the flashy props and tactics the band used, like the modern screens, confetti, the shiny mirrored row of hanging cubes, the fluorescent blue microphone that descended from the ceiling for half of one song, and of course the silhouette tarp used during the intro, all seem like elements from a much larger-caliber arena show. Other points during the evening felt more like being at a Christian rock concert.
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However, perhaps the most definitive and enjoyable elements of the show came when the band stripped it down, leaving Tedder's powerhouse vocals to do all the work. OneRepublic's discography may consist of masterful pure pop songs, but there is an overwhelming sense of authenticity there when you actually see from the little camera placed on the side of the piano the concentration in Tedder's face as he plays the keys himself and pushes to hit that one high note -- and hit it he always does.
It was the perfect family show, not only because of the high volume of recognizable songs for everyone to sing along to, but also because the band knows how to put on a show and gives the audience something to look at at all times. Whether it was the Spanish guitar solo in the middle of the set, the interesting mashup of "Apologize" and Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," or Tedder snatching the cameraman's camera and running down the aisles filming audience members, the crowd was engaged and excited the whole time, even those loungers in the lawn seats.
Other bands out there may have a similar sound, like The Script or Imagine Dragons, but on Friday night -- and during their whole "Native Summer" Tour -- OneRepublic is most definitely cementing themselves as the best pop-rock group of their kind.
Personal Bias: I gravitate towards any band that absolutely slays in the vocals department like One Republic does.
The Crowd: The whole range of the spectrum: hip youngsters, families with children, ladies with beer in hand clutching onto their designated-driver boyfriends.
Overheard In the Crowd: "No, Liz! It's actually the word 'one'!"
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