Carly Rae Jepsen at Minnesota Zoo, 8/18/13
With the Wanted
Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley
Sunday, August 18, 2013
There couldn't have been a better location for Carly Rae Jepsen to visit in the Twin Cities than the Minnesota Zoo. (Sure, the Mall of America runs a close second, but just the same.) The stony amphitheater, nestled as it is into a secluded hillside with leafy overgrowth, is tailor-made for school field trips more than for concerts, so there was a distinct air of the whimsical about the whole evening. Oh, and there were all those kids. Lots and lots of screaming kids.
The most enthusiastic (and ear-splitting) of those screams weren't aimed at the "Call Me Maybe" singer, however. No, those were unleashed on the opening act, a U.K. boy band called the Wanted. In fact, the mood in the zoo was almost subdued by the time Jepsen took stage -- a fact that wasn't exactly an anticlimax, per se. It was just, well, its own, separate kind of reality.
Slideshow: Carly Rae Jepsen and The Wanted at the Minnesota Zoo, 8/18/13
Carly Rae Jepsen on meeting Owl City's Adam Young and "Good Time"
In all fairness, comparing the energy of the two groups isn't exactly fair to Jepsen: The Wanted had five members to carry the load, plus a backing band of hardcore punk vets -- for example, guitarist Brian Deneeve used to play with From Autumn to Ashes -- that even a grizzled concertgoer would have to admit sounded tight. (Plus the libidinal preteen fervor of the audience to help keep the momentum going -- never something to be underestimated.) Jepsen had it all to do for herself, not to mention that her backing band left a lot to the imagination.
In any event, Jepsen never tried to compete with the Wanted, whose hour-long set ran about 15 minutes longer than hers -- and about 20 minutes longer than it should have. Hers was a comparative game of small ball, one which also said a great deal about her strengths and weaknesses as a performer. Frankly speaking, Jepsen's not an especially outstanding vocalist. Mind you, she's not bad, either -- it's just that she doesn't have the range to really be able to sing over a full band.
Her efforts to overcome that fact -- or at least to work around it -- were hit and miss. Mostly, she played coy, which suited the material: Each break-up phone call, passing crush, and missed opportunity was greeted with a twirl of her hair or a knocking of her knees. Dressed in a silver jacket and neon-green Chucks, she danced and spun and even ran in place, a spunky, modern-day reincarnation of Cyndi Lauper. Her long bangs, meanwhile, always provided a means of retreat when a song called for being bashful.