Oliver Tree is an alternative indie rock artist from Santa Cruz, California. He is best known for his outrageous personality and off-the-wall music videos. He signed with Atlantic Records after catching attention for his 2017 release “When I’m Down.”
My cousin Nathan and I entered the doors of the sold-out concert at The Fillmore in Minneapolis tonight. There wasn’t much open space between the entrance and the crowd.
It was a packed house. We found a pocket to stand in and prepared for what was to come.
Oliver Tree hit the stage with his band, all three members wearing pink and purple windbreakers and sunglasses.
In his classic oversized bell-bottom jeans, his first words are, “It’s so good to be home, ladies and gentlemen.” He apologized to the crowd for being late due to “trying to make his hair look pretty.”
Tree starts the set with a melancholy intro song, then immediately run straight into “Alien Boy.” The crowd knows the lyrics well. During “Alien Boy,” a fan runs up on stage mid-song.
“Security!” Tree yells out as he grabs the unknown man. Two men detain the perpetrator and usher him off stage. The crowd didn’t react much, assuming it was part of his act.
Upon completing “Alien Boy,” in a shouting manner as if he’s speaking to an arena of toddlers, he yells, “Who wants to hear one more song!” He proceeds to ask this question after he finishes every track.
“When I’m Down” is next. The crowd happily sang and swayed their hands above their head from left to right. Tree zips down into a 90’s paper cup-patterned sweatsuit and jumps into his song, “All That.”
His next tune includes another wardrobe change consisting of a reflective road worker vest and bucket hat.
Between songs, Tree said he was born two blocks down the street. He said he lived here (in Minneapolis) till he was 16 years old (no, he didn’t). He then proceeds to incorrectly address the crowd as “Minneanapolis.”
“If you find yourself standing next to someone 1-4 years old, you have TikTok to thank for that.” Indeed, two children were in my peripherals, held in their arms by their parents.
Fans bat at floating balloons around in the air as Tree takes a moment to perform karate moves and then bows to the audience. Next, Tree brings up “special guest” Lil Ricky, an 8-foot alien dressed in a yellow jumpsuit. Together, they perform “1993”.
The band members, including Tree, leave the stage as Lil’ Ricky lip-syncs an unreleased song written by Tree.
The crowd feels somewhat abandoned by their leader and significantly less into this performance. I imagine this is done to buy time for another costume change.
Next, Darude’s 1999 techno hit, “Sandstorm,” plays over the speakers while stage lights flash across the crowd, continuing to buy Tree time. I wish I were intoxicated.
Meanwhile, stagehands wheel out a life-sized horse and cow, two jumbo acoustic guitars, and other cowboy western aesthetics.
Western music begins to play over the speakers as the band returns wearing cowboy attire.
Sporting a cowboy hat and a fringed jacket, Tree mounts the cow centerstage and begins singing his hit “Cowboys Don’t Cry.”
He hops off the cow and says, “This next song is a very sad song. It’s about a threesome that never happened”. His track “Swing & a Miss” begins.
Before moving on to this next song, Tree states, “I want to make this like it’s Woodstock ’99 in this bitch”, which was off-putting.
A Netflix documentary recently came out on Woodstock 99′ that describes crowds so out of hand that multiple women were raped, fires were set to the grounds, and three people died.
An introduction to his song “Miracle Man” begins with a story. Tree said this song is about a plane ride from Minnesota to Canada where extreme turbulence almost brought down his plane.
True or untrue, I guess it doesn’t really matter at this point.
After “Miracle Man,” a lady in a cowboy hat walks on stage, and they have a fake conversation.
Tree gets back on the mic and says, “I just talked to the owner of this place, and she said I can play one more song if I pay $20,000.”
He leans into this gimmick for the following three songs, increasing the anty until he reaches $60,000. At this point, the joke is far overplayed.
This joke must’ve been picked off from Machine Gun Kelly’s recent video of him saying that he would be fined $70,000 for every ten minutes he continued to play passed curfew in his hometown show of Cleveland.
Tree walks into a fake outhouse and pretends to have diarrhea for about five minutes. Fart sounds are played on a backing track while he blames an ice cream sandwich he ate earlier in the day.
Fans look at each other like, “Wtf, this is just weird.” A poor attempt at keeping the crowd amused during yet another costume change.
“Cigarettes” is next, then a fan favorite, “Down.” Tree once again takes time to claim Minneapolis as his hometown. He also pronounces it “Minneanapolis”…once again.
Before he begins “Hurt,” “a song about a scooter accident that nearly ended his life,” Tree asks who would like to see a scooter trick.
A razor scooter is used to do a purposefully sloppy 360. The crowd doesn’t seem that amused.
“Hurt” begins, and fans spring back to life, chanting the lyrics back at bull cut-mullet-wearing Tree.
I was excited to see Oliver Tree tonight. I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but not this. It felt like a really bad high school play, between the constant yelling-type communication and leaning hard into his stage props and gimmick.
I’ve been a fan of his quirky persona for some time, starting when I saw his performance in 2017 at the Zumiez Mansion Party in Inver Grove Heights.
I understand the irony in his character, so I’ve taken that into account. I get the humor, but it just didn’t hit right tonight. A lot of people ages 14-24 (guessing, here) seemed to be enjoying themselves, so maybe I’m just getting too old for Oliver Tree.
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