Rex Orange County imitating the cover of "Pony" (Photo courtesy of Nick Dybel)
Mission Viejo High School

Review: Rex Orange County swoons the Shrine on The Pony Tour

Rex Orange County fans are more familiar with tunnel vision than most, though not literally.

The singer’s lighthearted storytelling and candid discussion of personal struggles create a feeling that Rex is only speaking to you — the listener — and nobody else. On January 10, at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A., over 6,000 fans all felt their own intimate connection to Rex, seemingly alone with the singer despite being surrounded by other young adults and teens. 

Rex has come a long way in a short time after catapulting into the spotlight as a feature on Tyler, the Creator’s 2017 album “Flower Boy.” The multi-instrumentalist and singer released his third album, “Pony,” in November 2019, blending indie-pop, R&B, and jazz influences more effortlessly than ever before. 

(Photo courtesy of Nick Dybel)

Rex refined his performance of his latest album over a handful of shows in the UK before bringing The Pony Tour to North America, and the mastery showed. The show began with the fast-paced “10/10” to prime the audience for the whirlwind of emotions they were set to endure for the next ninety minutes. 

“Laser Lights” and “Face to Face” were performed with little hesitation from Rex and his live band, two feel-good songs that allowed fans to settled into their spots until “Television/So Far Gone,” which quickly reignited the room’s energy. Everyone immediately jumped to their feet, swept up by the frenetic atmosphere created from the booming horns and drums while Rex juggled singing and frantically banging keys on the piano.

After the song’s climax, the audience got a rest with “Stressed Out” and “Pluto Projector,” quickly engaging their sentimental side. The audience accompanied Rex as he crooned, “I’m still a boy inside my thoughts/am I meant to understand my faults?,” as the young adults in attendance obviously able to channel their own feelings of confusion and introspection. 

The crowd’s palpable energy was expressed to Rex by someone screaming about his birthday, to which Rex encouraged the entire audience to wish him a happy birthday in response. That guy’s birthday was surely more memorable after being acknowledged by the singer, but the entire audience felt the mutual affection between the artist and his listeners. 

Rex Orange County juggles the microphone and piano. (Photo courtesy of Nick Dybel)

Midway through the song, the curtain dropped in front of the live band, further increasing the intimacy of the show. “Looks like it’s just you and me now,” Rex said as he sat down at his piano to play “Every Way.”

With the stage covered in grass and flowers, he performed stripped-down renditions of some emotional songs, using only his piano and guitar as accompaniment. He continued an ongoing tradition of performing a cover during this portion of the show, this time choosing Grease’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” The heartbroken lyrics seamlessly fit beside his original work, advancing the flow of the show nicely. 

After a few more tracks performed solo, the curtain was lifted to reveal the band in front of a new background, a large silver pony surrounded by colorful disco balls and a starry space landscape as background.

Together, they played “Never Had the Balls,” which increased the energy and got the crowd back on their feet. As if in celebration of the new stage design, confetti exploded over the crowd as Rex stared into it, stroking his mustache contemplatively. 

“It Gets Better” was played shortly after, to which the crowd continued their dancing. Mikey Alfred, the founder of Illegal Civilization skate crew, was even spotted grooving in his front-row seat.

“Look at us now, I’m proud of you,” Rex sang out, as if congratulating the crowd for enduring the emotional roller coaster of the past hour. 

Towards the end of the show, Rex asked the audience to put their phones away.

“I feel like if nobody films then this can be our little moment forever,” he said before starting “Best Friend.”

With all eyes fixed on the stage and the loved ones around them, the moment truly seemed to last forever. Surely, many left the Shrine feeling like they knew both Rex and their own feelings slightly better than before- meaning Rex’s music has done its job correctly.