They screamed when he walked on stage at 9 o’clock sharp. They screamed in between every song. They screamed when he touched their hands, played piano, picked at the guitar and took off his suitcoat. They screamed when he dropped an F-bomb or five.
And they — the giddy, vocal group of young females crowded at the center of the Troubadour on Monday night — really screamed when Finneas O’Connell asked if they were eager hear new songs from the album he’d just finished making for his kid sister, Billie Eilish. Such a tease. He smiled roguishly and told them, well, they’d just have to wait.
(A new Billie Eilish single arrives Wednesday morning, by the way.)
This night was about Finneas, at 21 already a pop craftsman and consummate performer, with acting credits on “Glee” and “Modern Family” and with a handful of gold and platinum records for songs sung by Eilish. And the sold-out crowd at the Troubadour demonstrated with their teenage lungs that there’s room in their hearts for both Finneas’ solo work and the music he co-writes and produces with his It Girl sister.
Monday’s was a true solo show, and credit Finneas for turning it into a visually interesting bit of theater. The nattily attired singer-songwriter alternated between piano- and guitar-based songs and performed a handful relying just on his velvety, husky voice and backing tracks. The stage was designed to be look a sidewalk, draped in strings of lightbulbs. At one end was a streetlamp; at the other was a phone booth. “I brought in this phone booth because because I thought it looked cool,” he wisecracked. “Then I realized I’ve never been in a phone booth before. So shout-outs to obsolete stuff.”
Finneas’ songs aren’t. Since late 2017, he has released nine singles, all treading the familiar pop turf of matters of the heart. From “Let’s Fall in Love for the Night” to “Luck Pusher” to “Hollywood Forever,” the faithful knew every word. At times, in fact, it seemed like not a solo show at all, but Finneas backed by a girls choir. He could not resist ducking out of the occasional verse or chorus to hear his songs sung back at him. Even amplified, his own vocals were sometimes drowned out.
The moment was not lost on him, though. He once fronted the rock quartet the Slightlys and recalled that it hadn’t been so long ago that nobody cared about his music. “This just shows you that no matter how many shitty, empty shows your teenage band plays at the Whisky, you can still reach your dream of someday headlining the Troubadour,” he said.
He set was over in a brisk 48 minutes. The house lights and music came up and the core group of screamers turned toward the curtained upstairs dressing room at the Troub and let loose. They let loose some more when somebody up there reached around the curtain to flash a phone message. And then there was just devotion, heading home on a school night.
Photos by Jessica Hanley