Courtesy of JILLIAN PAK
By JILLIAN PAK
For The News-Letter
New to the indie rock and psychedelic pop scene, Garrett Borns, better known by his stage name BØRNS, performed his debut album to a packed audience at Rams Head Live! on Tuesday Dec. 1. His recently released album, Dopamine, containing the chart-climbing singles “Electric Love” and “10,000 Emerald Pools,” quickly attracted a strong fan base. BØRNS’ airy falsetto and smooth melodies is much like the “Tennessee honey” he sings about, infusing high energy with dreamy lyricism. Despite having the limited repertoire of one studio album and an EP, BØRNS displayed the full range from more upbeat dance songs to quiet acoustic serenades.
BØRNS took the stage slightly late but immediately launched into “Dug My Heart” and “10,000 Emerald Pools” that had nearly everyone singing along the lyrics. This was an impressive feat considering how new many of the songs off his album were.
He reached out to the crowd as if to serenade them, “Under water / Time is standing still / You’re the treasure / Dive down deeper still, all I need is you.” Many had their hands on their chests as they followed along.
The show relied entirely on the strength of BØRNS’ vocals with no stage set-up and minimal lighting. However, this did not seem to bother the audience who followed his movements across the stage with eager eyes. Throughout the night, BØRNS engaged with the crowd in teasing tones.
He responded to an attendee’s request for a “Happy Birthday” shout-out with: “It’s your birthday? It’s BØRNS-day… happy BØRNS-day everyone.” His eccentric charm continued when he thanked the audience for filling the room with “glorious bodies.” Later he asked the crowd to imitate a twinkling ocean while sharing the background story of where the band had recorded Dopamine.
The supporting band took a break as BØRNS brought out a guitar and strummed the melody to an acoustic version of “Clouds.” This was a refreshing change of pace and his soft voice matched the lines, “Clouds are rolling by / I open my mouth and I breathe them right in / All my thoughts stoop away / But I can’t stop thinking ’bout your face.” While his songs had considerable range in tone, BØRNS’ lyrics are thematically similar and lack diversity in this way, though its cadence remains appropriate.
BØRNS’ final song on the setlist was one that everyone had been anticipating for the entire evening, “Electric Love.” The incredibly catchy and saccharine piece had the audience dancing and singing energetically until the last line.
BØRNS closed out the night with an encore performance after several minutes of cheers from the crowd demanding one more song. After returning to the stage in a flourish, he launched into a unique cover of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.” He successfully took a classic and injected it with what could only be described as a particularly “BØRNS vibe”. His final song was his single “Seeing Stars” from the previous EP Candy that finished off the night with an infectious, synth-filled energy.
The set seemed short and many audience members felt that it was over too quickly. Despite this common complaint, several Hopkins students present at the concert described the overall experience as satisfying. Sophomore Wooyang Son commented on her own experience.
“I’ve been listening to this album on repeat all month and he did not disappoint at all. His voice was even more incredible live and I felt like I was walking on clouds,” she said.
Austin-based band The Vanity opened the night with songs from their indie EP “ARE YOU GOING ALONE?” with four-piece indie pop group PHASES following after. While performing with good energy and endearing eagerness, both bands still struggled to find a natural balance, coming off slightly strained for many of their songs. One notable highlight of the opening performances was PHASES’ “I’m In Love With My Life”, which contained an infectious groovy hook that had the crowd bopping along.