It's hard to believe there's ever been a concert lineup where the artist boasting the #1 single in the country for nine straight weeks received sixth billing, but that's exactly what happened at 107.7 The End's Deck the Hall Ball last night at KeyArena. Lorde—with her hit single "Royals"—may be tearing up the charts, but she was just one of many acts sharing spotlight as part of the diverse, international bill.
The show kicked off early (3pm) with Scottish synthpop group Chvurches playing to a sparsely filled KeyArena. Despite not having the biggest crowd, singer Lauren Mayberry's sheepish charm helped the trio navigate a sharp set of songs from its acclaimed debut album The Bones of What You Believe. English rock group foals followed with a collection of extended jams that seemed to spark the crowd's energy.
After the first two acts, the crowd was abuzz as Lorde took the stage. Almost everything about the 17-year-old Kiwi contradicts the prevailing pop star motif. Her stage demeanor made her seem like the spastic minimalist EDM lovechild of Ozzy Osbourne and Norma Desmond, as she slinked around the stage with wild twisting hand gesticulations. She smartly knocked out "Royals" early in the set, thereby undercutting the ongoing anticipation of those only waiting to hear the big hit and forcing the captive audience to be guided through the other songs from her terrific album Pure Heroine. Sterling performances of the album's two best tracks—"Team" and "A World Alone"—to close out the set only further underscored that Lorde won't be sixth on a bill again anytime soon.
After rocking sets by Brits Arctic Monkeys and alt-J, The Head and the Heart—the show's lone Seattle representative—took the stage. It's fascinating to see how far the hometown indie folk favorite has come in the past few years. Despite the quiet nuances of the band's sound, the scale of KeyArena didn't diminish a thing. In fact, the group's closing rendition of "Rivers and Roads" was the most massive number of the entire night, seeming to fill every inch of the cavernous space with emotional electricity. The Head and the Heart proved it can not just survive an arena show, but thrive on the biggest stage.
The night wrapped up with headliners Phoenix and Vampire Weekend. While Phoenix endured some early technical difficulties, the French band was able to recover and brought a joyous vibe to show with renditions of hits like "1901" and "Lisztomania." Vampire Weekend brought sleek professionalism to the stage while playing its brand of East Coast prep rock, including tunes from its new record Modern Vampires of the City and older fan favorites like "Oxford Comma."
While radio showcases are inherently a little jumbled as a result of cramming somewhat disparate artists into one show in the name of future airtime, this year's Deck the Hall Ball managed to feel cohesive and unforced while delivering a summer music festival-worthy lineup.