Melanie Martinez played her second of two shows in Denver at The Ogden Theatre to a very full (yet not quite sold out) house on Wednesday night. Originally set to perform two sold out shows at the much smaller Larimer Lounge, the send show was moved to the larger Ogden Theatre to accommodate high ticket demand, and moments after arriving at the venue, it was obvious why. Melanie Martinez fans are a devoted and passionate bunch. Much of the crowd was dressed quite like Martinez does - with childish babydoll dresses, bright colors and wild makeup to top it all off. These fans seemed like a family, complimenting one another on their wild outfits before even stepping foot in the door, and suddenly, I felt very underdressed in my jeans and t-shirt.
Opening the show was indie group, Handsome Ghost, and almost immediately after their set began with high vocals and ambient instrumentals, the had the crowd’s full, undivided attention. Unfortunately, I had never even heard of Handsome Ghost until the band took the stage, but within two songs, I was reminding myself to listen to them again as soon as I got home. Their sound isn’t loud or in your face by any means, but it is absolutely captivating. Sometimes coupled with acoustic guitar, the ambient electronics mixed with the hypnotizing vocals were more than enough to earn the crowd (many of whom seemed to already have the band’s songs memorized) over within only a few songs. To make things even better, Handsome Ghost threw in two very unique covers - a mellow version of Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead,” and a gorgeous cover of The 1975’s “Sex.” By the time Handsome Ghost left the stage, the crowd was lulled into relaxation.
That mellow mood quickly dissipated, however, as Melanie Martinez’ performance drew near. Opening her set with an eerie recording of a crying baby, Martinez was greeted by passionate screams of her loyal fans and eventually took the stage, donning a fuzzy blue dress that perfectly captured her personality. Right from the beginning, and through the entirety of her set, each song was met with excited cries from the crowd and passionate sing-alongs. Kicking off the set with popular tracks, “Cry Baby” and “Dollhouse,” Martinez wowed the crowd and proved just why the show needed a bigger room to house all of her devoted fans.
The thing about a Melanie Martinez show, however, is that it isn’t just any concert. Only a few songs in, it was easy to tell that performing is a cathartic experience for Martinez. In the blink of an eye, her voice went from childish and playful to tearful, angry and furious. Vocally, she sounded incredible, but it was her performance that really made the night. Staying true to the theme of her recently released album, Cry Baby, the innocent moments in Martinez’ performance were intercut with angry and honest lyricism and dance moves that were far from childish. Playing off of the theme of tarnish innocence, Martinez wowed the crowd and had them screaming her name long before the end of the night. But sticking true to her down-to-earth personality, the night was also intercut with Martinez smiling and joking with the crowd, even letting a fan tell a cheesy joke at one point. By the time I left The Ogden Theatre, it was apparent that I had witnessed more than just a simple concert. Melanie Martinez’ performance is just that - performance art. Everything about the show was raw, real and yet incredibly polished.