Benson Boone’s star shines bright at Constellation Room

Seattle artist Benson Boone is on the cusp of being a household name, with the “In The Stars” singer-songwriter headlining a sold-out show at Santa Ana’s Constellation Room Friday night. It’s his first mini-tour and the fans were rabid for the rising talent, singing nearly all the lyrics to his current slate of songs, enjoying unreleased tracks and generally causing fan mayhem screaming, holding up lyric signs, finger hearts and begging the talented 20-year-old to do backflips and lose his shirt.

Toronto singer Alexander Stewart warmed up the crowd with a soulful vocal on “Back To You” and a memorable falsetto on his feature of Seeb’s “Would You Lie”. The newly-released “blame’s on me” (which earned over half a million streams in less than a day) was a moment, as was his smash hit, the mid-tempo, “Echo”.

Benson Boone‘s hour-long set found the crooner in a sleeveless shirt with his arms out, belting for the lively “Room For 2”, while they screamed and sang every word. Benson Boone shook fans’ hands leading up to the start of the next song, “Lovely Darling”, air-drumming midway through and belting at the end, even kissing a few hands.

He sang “Happy Birthday” to Hallie, the girl celebrating that night and sounded like a total star while doing so. (That girl’s birthdays will never live up this one). Then rolling piano chords started from the keyboardist for “Let Me Go”, with Boone sharing an impressive contrast between his powerful upper register as well as his lower one. Boone’s arms were out and he stretched out to the fans to sing the “oh-oh” chorus moments. Then a fan from Austria held up a poster and Boone stopped his show to greet her. Phones are clearly what bras were in the 80s because two fans threw phones up to the stage to capture a snap with their idol and Boone took one on someone’s SnapChat while joking about the contacts in the phone.

Photo by Michael Menachem

Shenanigans aside, new ballad “Before You” had lovely keys and seriously brought chills to the room, with the crowd singing just about word for word. The song builds perfectly and Boone sounded one part Harry Styles and another Michael Buble, with the crowd clapping and the musicians slowing it down with the room singing its final moments. Shoulder to shoulder, the audience was moving to the mid-tempo groove of “Nights Like These”, a soulful, bluesy tune that has the genetic makeup of an Adele song. The fans were singing along of course and guitarist Sus Vasquez smashed a pretty amazing solo while Boone grabbed a blow-up guitar, playing next to her.

The crowd chanted for Boone to do a backflip and he said, “I’ll do a flip if you earn it. I want to sing a song and hear all of you”. After some more discussion, Boone got honest and said, “It’s been real for me, it’s been the biggest year of my life”. He gave a nod to the producers he worked with on “Better Alone”, and the guitar strums of that song gently grounded the tune with Boone’s falsetto moments hitting a sweet spot, later belting with his head voice on the lyric “maybe I’m better alone”. The crowd sang every word in a spirited way, while Boone handled the tune like a seasoned pro, comfortable at the mic, chatting again with fans and stumbling on their names. He flipped in place after the song, and the room roared. The next one was the truly beautiful ballad “Little Runaway” with perfect falsetto from Boone. He dedicated it to his sister Kaylie, who he said struggles with mental health. “Being there for someone is the best thing you can do”.

Songwriter and co-writer Jack LaFrantz was in the crowd hollering some shorthand to Boone and Boone rattled off the list of all the songs he wrote, mentioning it was time for everyone to get their Kleenex ready. It was one of his biggies, “In The Stars” and the crowd didn’t miss a word. Boone delivered an incredible vocal, the production was epic and it’s one he should most certainly perform with a choir one day. Fittingly, Boone tweaked the ending, “And Santa Ana, you left the rest in pieces”. “I know it’s sad, I wrote it. My grandma died”, said Boone.

“Let’s do a happy one”. The unreleased “What Was” was absolutely anthemic and showcased another side of Boone’s voice. The coming-of-age tune (which Boone teased could be a possible new single) found the singer emphasizing the upper corners of his voice, hitting some notes only animals can hear. He unbuttoned the loose-fitting shirt, and said, “but only for the next song”, after requests from the fans. He mentioned a girl in his life and how he has never connected with someone so quickly. With people swooning and hearts breaking simultaneously, Boone said, “I wrote this song three minutes after I met her”. “Forever and A Day” was that other new, unreleased song, pure in its structure with simple piano chords and plenty of vocal acrobatics, making it one of the best of the night.

After another bout with will-he-or-won’t-he on losing the shirt, fans held up small signs saying “You’re a work of art” for “Work of Art”, giving everyone another sensational vocal. Boone mentioned how emotional it is for him to hear the words back from the crowd when he performs and started his other massive hit, “Ghost Town”, crooning in some moments like a Michael Buble or Frank Sinatra for a new generation. The rolling piano and kicking drum beat drove the song home while the fans sang every word. Benson touched fans’ hands during the verses and the shirt was off at the end. He bowed and the screaming ensued.

Photo by Michael Menachem

Words and images by Michael Menachem