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I see a lot of bands, hear a ton of music and get loads of press releases, so it’s a little unusual for me to go into a show with very little knowledge about the headliner. I missed Oliver Tree’s appearance at the 2022 Boston Calling and internally I kept conflating him with the face-masked Orville Peck; having a song called “Cowboy’s Don’t Cry” didn’t help matters.
Tree put together a pretty diverse bill on this tour, and opener Jasiah did an energetic hip-hop set to get things going, complete with two DJs, a hype man, and a social media director who constantly shadowed him holding an iPhone. Dayton OH is not just Guided By Voices and The Breeders though clearly Jasiah needs to up his game considerably to be included in that tier.
Next up was FIDLAR, who I last caught nearly ten years ago at Boston Calling and Brandon Schwarzel is still rocking the bucket hat as he lays down the foundational groundings for their songs. Mixing equal parts punk and emo with a perfectly snotty attitude, the quartet’s songs aren’t exactly a good roadmap as a lifestyle unless you think booze and drugs should be a constant companion. “Wake Bake Skate,” “On Drugs” and “40 Oz On Repeat” should give you a pretty clear idea of their ethos, not too surprising from a band who’s name derives from Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk.
The main event was prefaced by a pretty good but ultimately far too long bit via Super Computer, a tandem DJ team whose heads were monitors that either were in sync with or complemented the projections at the rear the screen. Seeing the Windows 95 boot up screen was pretty random and the duo did get the crowd pumped up, but I don’t think they needed 30 minutes to do the job.
Finally Tree came out on stage, sitting facing away from the crowd on a red couch with a giant remote as he watched the projected TV screen. Scene of jJet ski stunts, the world’s largest scooter, Tree as Robert Plant and the most famous tambourine player in indie rock, Joel Gion (I doubt many people caught that reference) gave way to the funniest bit, a fake ad for a medicine called Goatigro, whose litany of side effects ended with the possibility of goatee hair loss.
Tree’s a chameleon visually, adopting various personas throughout the night but his music kept within the guard rails of electro pop, outside of the C&W stylings of “Cowboys Don’t Cry,” performed atop a large fiberglass cow of course. It’s clear that Tree puts a lot of thought and effort into the visuals and flow of the show, and it was a very entertaining night.