A week ago, BØRNS was playing Coachella.
But if you missed the festival in Indio, California, you can catch Garrett Borns, the 24-year indie-popster Wednesday at Clifton Park’s Upstate Concert Hall.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 4
WHERE: Upstate Concert Hall, Route 146, Clifton Park
HOW MUCH: $15 in advance, $18 at door
MORE INFO: 371-0012, www.upstateconcerthall.com
Borns, who uses the stage name BØRNS, said he tries to view big shows — Coachella broke attendance records this year, selling nearly 200,000 tickets — the same as playing at smaller venue.
“It’s the kind of thing where you can never really prepare to be in front of that many people,” Borns said of the festival. “You just have to do it . . . You’re still communicating with an audience whether it’s 100 people or 1,000 people.”
After the release of his first studio album “Dopamine” last October, BØRNS has gotten a lot of play on local alternative radio stations and nods from other big names in the business like Taylor Swift.
The album’s standout songs include crowd favorites “Electric Love” and “10,000 Emerald Pools” — both packed with simple, catchy lyrics. “10,000 Emerald Pools” is a dreamy ballad with a thudding bass and plenty of smooth full-moon howling.
It might be hard to believe, but the young musician has been at it for decades already. He first began playing piano around age 4 while he was still living in Grand Haven, Michigan. He said he plays the ukulele, too, “if it’s available.”
He grew up listening to his parent’s records: “They had an eclectic collection.”
Borns was particularly drawn to late-’60s psychedelic music. “I still listen to the music I grew up listening to,” he said, listing bands like The Turtles and The Zombies. Superstars like Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Prince have also inspired the young Midwesterner. Our interview took place just minutes after news of Prince’s death broke last Thursday, April 21.
“It’s always really disorienting hearing that news,” said Borns. “I grew up listening to Prince. He was part of my musical upbringing. [I feel like he was] part of the family. He was one of those artists who is an all-around performer.”
While the long-haired crooner is capturing the spirit of his pop heroes on stage in front of thousands now, his earliest festival experiences were at bluegrass concerts as a kid in Michigan listening to what he called “rootsy music” with his parents.
When he was just 10, Borns’ yearning for the stage led him to pursue a brief career as a magician. As Garrett the Great, Borns performed magic tricks at birthday parties until he was 13, when he began shifting his focus to music. Speaking of the years he spent dabbling in magic, he said, “It got me performing, being a frontman.”
These days he can be spotted in bell-bottom jeans, psychedelic shirts buttoned just halfway and Elton John-style glasses while thousands sing along to “Electric Love” — the song he said he’s most proud of.
He changed the “o” in his name to “Ø” for stylistic purposes, not just because he appreciates Swedish music, though he does. One Swedish musical act he recommended to fans interested in expanding their CD collection is the band Amason — a group that includes keyboardist Pontus Winnberg of Miike Snow.
His album title, “Dopamine,” is what he calls “the overall theme of the album — songs inspired by chemical reactions.”
Reach Gazette reporter Cady Kuzmich at 269-7239, [email protected].