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The Student News Site of Oregon State University



Oysters glad to see representation at Royel Otis concert


The oysters in my pocket* and I were ecstatic to see Royel Otis live at the Aladdin Theater in Portland on May 20th. Royel Otis is an Australian indie pop/rock band fronted by Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic. They were joined on tour with Julian Sudek on drums and Tim Ayre on synths.

The opener, Girl and Girl, began with a Drop Nineteens/Swirlies-reminiscent spoken word segment, leading into one of their recently released songs, “Call a Doctor.” Under the burnt orange light, lead vocalist, Kai James, proclaims we are taking the path of least resistance and it’s causing us to miss out on life. Truth be told, I don’t remember what was said verbatim, but I know it was spoken with the right amount of confident ambiguity to make it straight out of a pretentious, coming-of-age indie film. I loved every second. 

Overall, Girl and Girl gave an entertaining performance with me believing Kai James was Eddie Munson reincarnate. I honestly found their songs to be a little monotonous and repetitive but I enjoyed their 2022 single, “Dance Now.” 

Royel Otis came out with “Sonic Blue,” a song off their latest album PRATTS & PAIN. It was a high energy start with lyrics you found yourself screaming with a conviction you didn’t know you had. Nobody was messing around. Royel did a really good job with the guitar riff and the drummer was very attuned to uplifting Royel and Otis’ performance instead of washing them out. 

Their next track was “Velvet.” It has a bit of a twang to it that for some reason reminds me of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” It’s not my favorite song off the recording but the live performance was great. 

Next, they started playing “Bull Breed” and Otis Pavlovic’s beautiful scratchy vocals singing “Smoking all the cigarettes like she be Courtney Love” hit some reflex in my body, full force, and I was reborn. Not actually, I just started dancing a little more. Then they played “I Wanna Dance With You” and “Fried Rice.” Also great, fun, dancy songs. Then “Motels” came on and I could not help but turn up! I love a cutesy song and Otis’ talent really shone bright like a diamond here. 

“Foam” was SO fun live. It’s a little slower and more groovy. Groovy in the way where I started dancing like I was dodging bullets in slow motion. I couldn’t be stopped and nobody wanted to stop me because they were in awe of my moves. I also felt like a community was formed when everyone collectively sing-shouted “keep my name out your mouth.” 

They played “Heading for the Door” and I went crazy. Royel’s interlude electrified the hazy blue light that enveloped the stage. As the scratchy vocals and drums intensified, their pace quickening, you felt like you were a part of something bigger. And that you better dance like a lunatic or were you really even in it for the night?

They kept the energy up with “Adored,” a fun, almost 80s at times, experimental track that’s made for spinning around and around in circles until you’re dizzy. I refrained from doing so at the concert. 

“Sofa King” and “Going Kokomo” came next. I think they ordered “Going Kokomo” perfectly in the setlist. The song is about letting go and knowing something good is going to end soon. During the song, I got that feeling you get at concerts when you know it’s about to end so you have to focus extra hard on being present for those final, fleeting moments. “Going Kokomo” is the perfect complement to that kind of inner, subconscious monologue. 

Anyway, with that feeling in mind, Royel and Otis hit us with a double whammy, double feature extraordinaire. Their cover of “Murder on the Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor directly followed by “Oysters in my Pocket.” Royel Otis needs to release their live performance of “Murder on the Dancefloor” because it blows their recorded version out of the water. Blows it several galaxies away never to be seen again. It was so good live that the energy in the theater dramatically shifted and every soul present started dancing and singing their hearts out. Royel Otis knows how to do a live performance!! Riding their high, they went straight into “Oysters” and the energy couldn’t have been higher, it was an incredible performance. 

They come back for an encore and perform their cover of “Linger” by The Cranberries. An enchanting vocal performance by Otis. I’m surprised I didn’t crumple to the floor like a delicate flower petal. They ended with “Kool Aid,” again perfect selection. It is imbued with end-of-concert nostalgia. Overall, one of the best concerts I have ever been to. They know how to entertain an audience.

Their tour was documented by film director Jamieson Kerr. Parts are filmed on a camcorder so it has that super cool 2000s MTV vibe. It’s posted on his Instagram @jamiesonfilm. Royel Otis will be back in Portland October 20th at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom. I will be there, you should too. <3

(*No oysters were harmed. I was joking when I said the oysters in my pocket were ecstatic to see Royel Otis live. You can’t bring oysters into a concert silly! Try it. I dare you. It won’t work. And your oysters will be alone, cold and defenseless, outside the venue all night. And they’ll never forgive you. Trust me I would know…) 

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