Pop musician and Steinhardt grad Lauv has emphasized that his upcoming album, “How I’m Feeling,” will focus on his personal experience with mental illness. It’s only appropriate that his world tour for the album has done the same. At Terminal 5 last week, the singer played two sets that emphasized mental health awareness through the space, the songs and the moments in between.
The venue was small, but the intimacy worked well for the extremely personal set. His performance integrated his earlier works, such as “I Like Me Better,” with more recent releases like “Sims.” As he sang, he danced around the stage, showing how comfortable he was with the crowd. He played most songs with full instrumentation, but he also performed an acoustic interlude without any background music.
It was between the songs that Lauv’s thematic intention was most apparent. The singer briefly explained the inspiration behind the lyrics of some of his songs. Most of them were based on important times in his life, but others were inspired by fans. For example, he explained that “Superhero” was based on an anonymous note someone submitted to Lauv’s ongoing mental health awareness project, “My Blue Thoughts.” He also gave a small speech before performing “Sad Forever,” a song he wrote before he sought professional help for his mental health.
“No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to escape the voice in my head [that] beat me up for every single thing I did, told me to quit music and told me I was a bad person,” Lauv told the crowd. “I realized that mental health needed to be approached like any mental illness.”
He reached out directly to the audience, instructing them to sign up for mental health courses and giving them a mental health hotline number to text. Even the venue itself reflected Lauv’s push for mental health awareness, as there were two telephone booth-esque installations called “blue rooms,” where attendees could privately write on a slip of paper about their own mental health. The installation was another part of “My Blue Thoughts.”
The crowd didn’t hesitate to cheer Lauv on during the non-song segments for showing his more vulnerable side. The emphasis on non-musical components to the concert transformed the performance dynamic into something more intimate.
Right after the concert, he tweeted, “the energy on this tour has been on a whole other level and i’m feeling healthy mentally and i’m finally really happy THANK U GUYS FOR EXISTING.”
Lauv’s “How I’m Feeling” tour will continue in the U.S., before venturing to Europe and Latin America. His new album will be released on March 6, 2020.
A version of this article appears in the Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, print edition. Email Dani Herrera at [email protected]