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Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Girls flock to see Calvin Harris and Ed Sheeran at Jingle Ball

By Charlie Zaillian
Special to The Seattle Times

Concert Review |

Sunday night at WaMu Theater, a raucous and very young crowd braved crummy weather — even by Seattle standards — for 106.1 KISS FM's annual Jingle Ball, with performances from seven artists currently in heavy rotation on the local Clear Channel outlet.

DJ and producer Calvin Harris' momentous set featured a hailstorm of confetti, silver and gold beach balls, trippy visuals and continuous hit music drawn largely from new LP "18 Months." As the charismatic Scotsman pogoed and clapped to his own maelstrom of digital blast-beats and melancholic yet triumphant pianos, the audience followed suit. The recent "Feel So Close" elicited a spirited call-and-response, while Harris' keen melodicism held the crowd's attention through lengthier wordless passages.

Earlier, female attendees erupted in lovestruck howls at the mere mention of Ed Sheeran's name, and the fresh-faced, redheaded Brit didn't disappoint them. With lung-busting speak-singing and percussive acoustic shredding, his hip-hop-and-Celtic-inflected "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" was a showstopper.

Sheeran bookended "You Need Me" with middle-of-the-road folksiness that was unfortunately more James Blunt than James Taylor, but the 21-year-old has charm, chops and — most important — time. If he transcends singer-songwriter dullsville, he could be great.

Less impressive were Jingle Ball's two American acts.

Sweater-vested, asymmetrically-coiffed Minnesotan Adam Young, of Owl City, sounded like The Postal Service's Ben Gibbard, with Maroon 5 glitz and pseudo-U2 delay, but his Auto-Tuned, emo-tinged presentation still felt canned.

Meanwhile, the obnoxiously-punctuated Boulder, Colorado quintet 3OH!3 matched boy-band bombast to crunchy power chords and buzzy, Ratatat-like synths.

As girls formed the audience's overwhelming majority, the bill — which also included crooner Alex Clare and DJ Afrojack — could have benefited from a stronger female presence. Owl City keyboardist Breanne Düren was the only woman to appear onstage after teen rapper Cher Lloyd's lively opening set, which unfolded as people were still filing in.

It would also be nice to see some form of Seattle representation at future Jingle Balls.

That said, the night's overall mood was fun, and the music often quite good if one didn't overthink it.

Charlie Zaillian: czaillian@gmail.com


DAVID CONGER
Fans cheer for Calvin Harris at the Jingle Ball at WaMu Theatre Sunday.




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