AJR’s tech stuns fans at OK Orchestra tour

AJR performs at the Peoria Civic Center on Sept. 12. Peoria was one of the bands stops on their OK Orchestra Tour.

Photo Courtesy of Raina Kutliroff

AJR performs at the Peoria Civic Center on Sept. 12. Peoria was one of the band’s stops on their OK Orchestra Tour.

By Raina Kutliroff, Staff Writer

After the release of their fourth album “OK Orchestra,” indie-pop brothers AJR have been eagerly waiting to take their music to live performances. In December during the height of the pandemic, the band’s frustration and lack of personal connections with their fans led them to create “One Spectacular Night.” This virtual concert experience highlighted their notorious use of technology and got fans excited for their return to in-person concerts.

For many fans of AJR, the OK Orchestra Tour was their first time attending a concert since 2020. Jack Met, vocalist infamous for his fuzzy winter hat which he’s rarely seen without, introduced himself to the eager crowd at Peoria Civic Center on Sept. 12. Met explained to the crowd how unique it is that both the crowd and the artist can share an intimate connection through a mutual excitement for taking part in live performances after so long. 

After openers Daisy the Great and Sasha Alex Sloan, fans prepared for AJR. The band opened the show with “Bummerland,” causing fans to immediately jump out of their seats and begin fist-bumping the air. The audience’s arms stayed in the air through the entirety of the show. The band is currently touring with drummer Chris Berry and Arnetta Johnson on the trumpet. The show would not have been as epic without Johnson, who was dancing and walking on a treadmill during the show, all while playing the trumpet.

In order to give homage to many of the songs the band couldn’t play during their hour and a half set, Johnson stood in front of the stage while an impressive music video played behind her. She began walking on a moving treadmill while playing snippets of most of AJR’s popular songs, such as “Netflix Trip,” “Humpty Dumpty,” “Break My Face” and more. She did this all while ducking as items were falling and coming toward her from the screen playing behind her. Johnson’s performance earned her a well-deserved very long cheer from the crowd when AJR introduced her by name. 

AJR does not hide their secrets for how their unique songs are created, as fans may know this from their YouTube videos showing their creative process. AJR took this one step further by showing audience members how they produce songs. Ryan Met, the pianist, told fans how the group gains inspiration to create new songs. 

“We were sitting in our living room in our apartment and we hear a knock on the door,” Ryan said. 

Ryan then explained they record a similar sound on their production application to the knock. On top of the knock-sound, they add keys, trumpets, guitar and bass. 

“We then take the tempo down in order to get that signature AJR sound,” Ryan said. 

The band smoothly transitioned into a rendition of “Overture.” 

As the lights dimmed for the beginning of the show, the screen displayed a giant button that said: “DO NOT PUSH.” This button was kept on screen for most of the show and was ultimately revealed to resemble Jack’s mind during an obsessive -compulsive disorder episode. For the show, he explained, he decided to finally push the button that was constantly on his mind. At the encore show, AJR passed around an actual button, designed to resemble the one on screen and had an audience member push the button.

The button set off an explosion of a grand finale; the screen played an AJR short film set to look as though the band was underwater while confetti was dropping from the ceiling. Many of their popular songs were played in a remix, with intense sound effects, highlighting their impeccable sound production skills.

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