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Briston Maroney sells out the Jefferson Theater with a combination of indie rock hits and ballads

Maroney brought the house down with a raw show of emotion and musical talent

<p>Maroney possesses a unique talent for portraying his unique personality onstage, while also showcasing his clear musical talent.</p>

Maroney possesses a unique talent for portraying his unique personality onstage, while also showcasing his clear musical talent.

Many students put Wednesday night homework aside to see indie rock singer-songwriter Briston Maroney play the Jefferson Theater on September 14. Opening for the hit alternative folk band Rainbow Kitten Surprise earlier this year, Maroney is now headlining shows around the U.S. and Europe. 

Maroney’s authentic songwriting, raspy voice and ringing guitar make for a very specific sound, attracting audience members from all around the state. The concert fostered a warm and homey atmosphere and the audience was mellow and very friendly. Maroney and his band we clearly very happy to be performing 

The concert opened with Alaskan indie band Medium Build, who definitely matched Maroney’s energy and rustic aesthetic. Their lethargic, methodic sound combined bass and acoustic guitar, as well as a constant repeating synth which grounded the songs. 

Both Medium Build and Maroney’s sets were accompanied by smoke and colorful lights. Maroney even featured a disco ball for a couple songs, which shot colorful shards of light around the theater.

Maroney’s most recent album, “Sunflower: Deluxe,” came out this April, serving as an extension of his 2021 album “Sunflower.” “Sunflower: Deluxe” features six new original songs and a revamped cover. 

Most of the songs from the setlist came from “Sunflower: Deluxe,” with some standouts like “Freakin' Out On The Interstate” and his newest single “Paradise.” The setlist was very balanced, as Maroney made time for his heartfelt ballads like “Fool’s Gold,” and even closed the night with “Caroline” –– a mellow letter to a childhood version of himself.

“The band and I played [the Jefferson] exactly a year ago today,” Maroney said. “It was the first time the four of us all played together, and we thought we did really poorly. So thank you all for coming back to see us again.”

Not surprisingly, the crowd was particularly excited about “Freakin' Out On The Interstate,” as the song trended on TikTok and jump-started Maroney’s music career. Many online musicians began to cover the song, and it became popular throughout online communities who emphasized an outdoorsy and care free aesthetic.

The Knoxville native emphasizes storytelling in his songwriting, making his discography almost feel like reading his diary. Most of his songs have an underlying rock feel to them, but upon lyrical analysis, they are very thoughtfully written. 

“Rollercoaster,” for example, discusses the anxiety of the build-up of a party, and then feeling stuck there. The pre-chorus sounds very tense and angsty until the relief of the all-encompassing chorus comes in, just to be thrown right back into a rigid-sounding verse. This feeling was emphasized during the live performance, as Maroney was so passionate he even backed away from the mic to belt the lyrics.

Like many musicians, Maroney is known for his love songs . Certainly relatable to college students, Maroney often discusses his hesitations when getting into a relationship and trying to always do the right thing. In “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t” he sings: “So if you want to, maybe we ought to / I'll talk if you do, but we don't have to / I'll go if you go, I won't if you won't” 

His lyrics in “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t” are a contrast to the track “Freeway,” where Maroney unabashedly confesses his love to a significant other. A lyric in the chorus suggests flipping someone off, so Maroney encouraged the crowd to do so for the chorus of the song. 

The July 2022 track “Paradise” is a new take on Maroney’s love for guitar, but his pristine lyricism remains. “Paradise” discusses the need to remain genuine when you are young, offering a carpe diem attitude with lyrics like, “How easy would it be to put the nine-to-five behind / A sandcastle royalty and seven seas of heaven shinin'?” 

When playing “Paradise,” Maroney and his band really let loose. All four members of the band were head banging, jumping, screaming and jamming. 

Maroney described his band as his best friends, and it was clear how much they enjoyed performing together. Completely rocking out, the band seemed to be lost in the music. 

Overall, the concert was very zestful, and it is clear that the musicians love their job. Maroney possesses a unique talent for portraying his personality onstage while also showcasing his clear musical talent. His headline U.S. tour will continue through the beginning of November 2022.

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