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Ruel's 4th Wall Tour Show Review

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Ruel has been one of those artists that I go back to in times when I'm in need of some comforting nostalgia from days of high school past. I discovered him about six months after Free Time dropped, so early 2020, but found a love for his music once the Bright Lights, Red Eyes EP was released. I used to love a lot of indie pop like this, I connected with other artists like Role Model, Benee, Omar Apollo, Still Woozy, Ryan Woods, and Jawny around this time too, so Ruel kind of fell in that phase with me. When the single "Growing Up Is ____" dropped, that was what made me realize that his music was actually going to be a big part of growing up.


The Roseland Theater has become my most cherished venue in Portland, I could talk about it all day! The atmosphere is always so much fun to be in, and on top of that, there's a parking lot right across the street from it which is especially helpful in a city like Portland. No one wants to walk super far at night in a city like that, at least not me. I'd seen Madison Beer and Chase Atlantic there before, so when I saw Ruel was playing there, I knew I had to go. There's just something in the air at that venue, it's kind of a safe space for me when it comes to concerts. The only other venue I feel that way about is Hayden Homes Amphitheater in Bend, but that's probably just because I work there.


The doors opened at 7, so we got there around 5. I was hoping to be on barricade but the problem is that there were VIP early entry tickets which we didn't get. With the people that did get those tickets, we were about third row which was still really nice. Everything had a purple and blue haze cast over it from the lighting, and the air was thick with concentrated breaths and excitement. Ruel's opener was Sam MacPherson, an artist whom I'd never heard of before and was stunned by. It was brave of him to go onstage with just his voice and a guitar, as most artists typically have a band or support with them. This proved to be a beautiful display of authenticity with no other instruments or voices to obstruct his art. he did a wonderful cover of "Thinkin Bout You" by Frank Ocean, but the standout to me was an unreleased track called "Snakebite" that I hope the world gets to hear soon.


One of my favorite things about Ruel is his ability to display emotion in his music, whether that be through the tone of his voice or the lyrics, you can always tell what he's feeling. A lot of artists can sing about heartbreak or sadness, but it takes real talent for the listener to be submersed in those feelings through the use of tone. A lot of 4th Wall feels that way to me, in fact, the first time I'd listened through it all the way, I was underwhelmed by the ratio of happy to sad songs, it seemed that the whole album kind of dimmed my mood. Turns out, I just wasn't in the proper mood for downcast songs, and when I listened to it again in a headspace more prepared for sadness, the album presented itself in a new light. "Japanese Whiskey", "Sitting In Traffic", and "Must Be Nice" became quick favorites for that reason.


Ruel opened the show with "Go On Without Me", an upbeat track about letting go of a relationship for the better of both parties. It began his performance on an upbeat note, and that continued through "Growing Up Is___", my favorite song! As I mentioned, that song has a special place in my heart because it came to me at such a perfect time in my life. I was extremely happy but also felt the urge to cry because that track is so special to me, such a surreal experience to hear it in person. He has such a powerful voice and I can't emphasize enough how much greater it is live, he puts on a great show. It's always disappointing when an artist's voice that you love doesn't sound as good in person and you realize that it was probably tampered with a lot during production, but that was not the case here.


"Sitting In Traffic" had the audience swaying in mesmerization, and I think I love it even more after hearing him perform it. That show felt like a giant hug, not only from him but from the audience. Everyone was just having a good time and singing and dancing without violence or rudeness which is hard to find these days. And of course, he played some of his older songs like "Dazed and Confused", "Painkiller", and "Face To Face". I LOVE Face To Face, it was one of the songs I liked the most from him when I was getting into his discography. All the older ones feel so nostalgic to me which is partly I think why this show felt so comforting. Another thing I noticed about him is that he's very observant with the audience. I could see him kind of studying the crowd at different points when he was singing, just taking in the different faces filled with love and adoration for him. He even paused at one point to read a sign and talk to the girl for a minute before continuing. It was so special to feel seen and appreciated in the audience, another thing that isn't super common these days, but it just depends on the artist. He also did a cover of "Night Changes", the song by One Direction, and it was an unexpected but incredible rendition. I think the world needs more 1D covers!


The coolest part of the show for me was getting a setlist! It's kind of become a tradition for me to collect setlists now, and so far I have them from Deb Never, Benee, Maggie Lindemann, Chase Atlantic, and now Ruel. they're just super fun and unique souvenirs to take home. I have this sign that says "Can I have your setlist?" on it and I bring it to pretty much every show. I held it up during the encore when he was singing "I Don't Wanna Be Like You", and the person playing the keyboard handed one to Ruel who jumped off the stage and up to the barricade to hand it to me. I felt like the most special girl in the world! It was overall an incredible show and I hope that I can see him again someday, maybe even playing a longer set because he didn't play a bunch of my favorite songs (boooo!). But that's okay, he played so many other incredible tracks. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read! I appreciate you!


Cece


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