'I can't believe this is real': Lauv’s Vancouver show was a visual fever dream

I remember being 13, having my first crush and finding this one song on Youtube that perfectly described how my paper mache teenage heart felt. Flash forward to being 16, sitting in the back of a car listening to “I Met You When I Was 18” and “how i’m feeling” on replay for a 4 hour road trip. It felt like the words were holding my hand and walking me through all the rocky emotions no one else seemed to understand.

I haven’t listened to Lauv since high school, but my 16 year old self would have probably passed out if she’d known that she would watch him live in concert at her very own university.

Electropop singer-songwriter Lauv performed in Vancouver at the Doug Mitchell Arena on Saturday, September 20. The venue filled up slowly on the warm evening, and opening act Payday’s raw bars energized the room as the crowd continued to trickle in.

After a brief break, the audience erupted into cheers to welcome Hayley Kiyoko, the special guest on tour, also known fondly by many as 'Lesbian Jesus'. She performed a few popular songs, including “Fix You” and “Curious.” True to her nickname, Kiyoko ended with gay anthem “Girls Like Girls” as she waved a rainbow pride flag and shouted “Let me see you!” to the crowd, who waved their arms back.

The crowd was buzzing now, many singing along to the Lauv playlist playing in between sets.

At 9 p.m., the most recent single on Lauv’s 2022 album, “26" began to play in the background. The room went completely dark. A blinding white moon rose on the projection screen centre stage, revealing Lauv’s silhouette amidst clouds of artificial smoke. Cue the screams.

The singer sprang straight into action, jumping and dancing along as the song hit the drop. Smoke continued to pool the stage, a dreamy contrast to the bright lights and punchy, high-tempo beat.

The visuals were a highlight of the concert, making each song an immersive experience: Blasts of colour and energetic geometric shapes moved to the beat, and weather-themed backdrops accompanied his moodier songs.

For his tender 2017 hit “Paris in the Rain" the screen turned into a darkened window pane, with rain lightly pattering in the background as he sang. Flames burst into blue and orange crescendos on screen during his 2018 single “Chasing Fire”and clouds crossed over summer blue skies to accompany “Feelings” a soft ode to the question marks and uncertainties of newly blossoming love.

Despite the huge crowd, Lauv took every opportunity to engage with the audience. At one point, he pronounced he was going to give some marker tattoos and ended up signing a few fans’ posters while onstage.

Lauv invited a couple lucky fans to join him onstage to duet his song titled “Canada,” originally featuring Alessia Cara.
Lauv invited a couple lucky fans to join him onstage to duet his song titled “Canada,” originally featuring Alessia Cara. Diana Hong / The Ubyssey

In perhaps the most wholesome moment of the show, he invited a couple lucky fans to join him onstage to duet his song titled “Canada,” originally featuring Alessia Cara.

Lauv sang the first verse, and the pair swayed along, holding one another, before stepping up to the mic for Alessia’s part. It felt as if we were collectively holding our breath – no one knew what to expect – until one of them took the mic and shouted, multiple times, “I can’t believe this! I can’t believe this is real!”

The entire stadium erupted into cheers and laughter. The pair’s excited disbelief subsided long enough for them to produce an empathic rendition of the chorus, looking right at each other as they sang the line “That could be us, that could be you and me.”

As the pair exited stage right, Lauv proclaimed that this was probably one of the top ten most amazing and funny things he had witnessed in his life.

While the tour was titled after his most recent album, “All 4 Nothing” the artist performed a surprisingly high number of older songs, even asking the crowd at one point if it was “okay to play another old one.” As an old fan, I was overjoyed to be able to sing along to over half of the songs in the show.

After playing the supposed last song, Lauv walked off backstage — but fans knew it wasn’t over yet. Nostalgia ran high as he returned to truly finish with his 2017 breakout hit “I Like Me Better” and the audience sang along louder than ever.

Then fluorescent white overhead lights flooded the stadium, and the visual fever dream of a concert came to an end as quickly as it had begun. Walking home then, and writing this now, I know this night will become a core memory. My 16 year old self can definitely die happy.