Owl City: Live from Los Angeles 2011 (Blu-ray) 2012


It was probably three songs into this concert, at the point Owl City launched into yet another inordinately cheery tune called "Hello Seattle" that I started to think about how different this band's approach to pop and rock traditions really is.   Audio only sample

 

As a resident of the Pacific Northwest myself, and one who saw the Grunge movement become this region's claim to fame, I had to laugh a little to myself in thinking about the "evolution" from the dour, depressive worldview of someone like Kurt Cobain to this "shiny, happy people" ethos of Owl City. 

It was probably the Seattle reference which brought this all to mind, but that stands as a good exemplar of what sets Owl City apart from many of their pop music contemporaries: Young and his troupe are obviously optimists. The tunes here, while harmonically varied, tend to settle into major keys, and the pointillistic dollops of accompaniment Young assigns to any of a battery of keyboards gives his music a glittering vibrational quality which seems to aurally insinuate a sense of wonder and joy. 

My sense is that some rock purists are going to decry Owl City's music as being too lightweight to merit any serious consideration, but this live outing proves that Young and his band can rock quite convincingly when push comes to shove. What's really interesting in watching the band and listening to them is how they segue from quieter, more delicate pop laden moments to something at least approaching thrash. Young has an incredible arsenal of color at his disposal with his huge array of keyboards (including some really fun retro sounds that hearken back to the dawn of the synthesizer age), but he acquits himself quite well on acoustic piano and both electric and acoustic guitar at various moments in this concert. It would have been nice if his band members could have received a little more attention. His drummer Casey Brown is especially impressive, pounding out some very complex cross rhythms which blend effortlessly with the manifold bits and pieces emanating from the synths, guitars, and violin and cello. 

Owl City's set list includes: 

The Real World 

Cave In 

Hello Seattle 

Angels 

Swimming in Miami 

Umbrella Beach 

I'll Meet You There 

Plant Life 

Setting Sail 

The Bird and the Worm 

Lonely Lullaby 

Fireflies 

Dreams Don't Turn to Dust 

Kamikaze 

Meteor Shower 

January 28, 1986 

Galaxies 

Alligator Sky 

Deer in the Headlights 

The Yacht Club 

How I Became the Sea 

If My Heart Was a House

Owl City Live From Los Angeles follows the standard operating procedure of most concert releases from Eagle Rock by offering three audio options, a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix, an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo mix, and a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Both lossless options sound magnificent, though it's recommended that the surround mix be utilized as Owl City's music is so multilayered, with little dabs of color entering here and there, that the surround mix really opens up the soundfield and allows a lot of space for the listener to enter into. Fidelity is exceptional throughout this track, with some amazingly wide dynamic range, courtesy of Young's penchant for segueing suddenly from quieter, acoustic moments to sudden bursts of manic electronic energy utilizing his entire band. The mix here is very appealing (one assumes at least some of what we're hearing is computer driven pre-records, including the cool synched video feed featuring rapper Shawn Chrystopher on "Alligator Sky"). 

Video

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Video resolution: 1080i

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Audio

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

English: LPCM 2.0

English: Dolby Digital 5.1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

English: LPCM 2.0

English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (less) 

Subtitles

English, French, Spanish 

English, French, Spanish (less) 

Discs

25GB Blu-ray Disc

Single disc (1 BD)

Playback

Region A (B, C untested)

Unavailable

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