10/23/14 – The Sinclair

His hair stuck out in every direction, reminiscent of a certain Chuckie from Rugrats.

Without introduction, the wirey-haired and flannel-clad Conner Youngblood began strumming his guitar. As he hopped from keys to guitar to a tiny electric mandolin, he slowly looped together the bits that make up “Warpath.” His sharp whistling contrasted with his delicate voice—sometimes as light as the feather on the cover of his EP, Make Me Faster….

Rather than fading out or slowly removing each layer, however, he quickly tapped the pedal and the song jolted to a halt. It was as if he’d slowly blown up a big balloon—but instead of tying it for us all to admire, he let the air rush out, leaving behind a limp piece of rubber.

The same happened with “Aqua Regia.” Again, the slow build as he added layer upon layer. Next thing you know, he stooped down to take a swig of his purple Vitamin Water, and before he’d even put it back down, the pedals were released and the song had ended. He remedied this later in the set by extending a few song endings into the crawling starts of the next.

Though light chatter lined the walls it meant there was an audience to play to: “Most people skip the opener and take more drinks at home,” he said, before admitting, “That’s what I do. I don’t recommend that.”

Fortunately, unlike many acts in the genre, Youngblood’s set wasn’t just a handful of EPs played back at us. Many of his tracks were slowed-down renditions, a bubbling pot of Pop Rocks; the low, sustained bass notes and his breathy voice faded in and out, punctuated by snaps and drum rolls. His raspy performance of “Vegas” matched the style of the show’s main act Angus & Julia Stone, but unlike the vocals of the Australian duo he opened for, once in a while Youngblood’s voice became nearly inaudible as he reached for notes he couldn’t quite hit.

The laid-back feel of his music could have easily lulled us to sleep were it not for a few shake ups, the most memorable of which was a glimpse of an old traditional bluegrass song. He plinked away on the banjo and even sang a section in a hillbilly accent with the urging of the crowd.

Youngblood was all too aware that the majority of the crowd wasn’t actually there for him, yet he seemed too chill to care. As he sang, “But it don’t bother me you see” on a second version of “Warpath”—this time acoustic—it seemed directed towards the conversations in the crowd that nearly drowned out his voice as he closed.

Deflated Balloons: Conner Youngblood
  • Variations from recorded versions of songs
  • Incorporated different styles
  • Honest, sincere banter
  • Abrupt endings
  • Vocals sometimes wavered

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