By EMILY HERMAN, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Ryn Weaver, the 22-year-old singer who ascended to indie stardom last summer after dropping her first single online, drew a sold-out crowd of frenzied fans to Washington D.C.’s U Street Music Hall on July 24.
Weaver, née Erin Wüthrich of San Diego, catapulted her way into the pop music scene after connecting with producer Benny Blanco. Weaver posted her first single “OctaHate,” a percussive, frenetic song about getting “tossed to the loss in your love game,” on her SoundCloud account in June 2014. Within hours, a slew of influential people in music industry — from Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos to Charli XCX and Paramore’s Hayley Williams — shared the song on Twitter.
For someone so new to fame, Weaver has amassed an incredibly dedicated and infatuated fanbase. The crowd of primarily millennial women and gay men knew every syllable to every song from her debut album The Fool, which dropped in June. Weaver prefaced one deeper cut from The Fool with “I don’t know if you know this one” only to receive screams of approval after announcing the title.
Writhing seductively and batting her doe eyes under muted bubblegum lights, Weaver gave off a '90s dream-girl image. She stopped throughout the show to express her gratitude for her fans, hugging a young girl in the front and occasionally sitting at the edge of the stage to serenade her most fervent admirers.
Even while maintaining superstar stage presence, Weaver made an assertive effort to create a friendly relationship with her fans and to foster friendships between audience members.
“We have all these likes and followers but no real friends,” she said after pausing her set to instruct the audience to introduce themselves to the people standing around them.
For all the love Weaver showed her fans, the favor wasn’t always returned. Weaver’s reflections between songs — and sometimes the songs themselves — were inaudible over the audience’s screams. A handful of people were particularly aggressive; Weaver let out an uncomfortable, slow chuckle after a man interrupted her by screaming “have my babies!”
The end of Weaver’s set also felt awkward. After her penultimate song — a rousing rendition of “OctaHate,” which inspired fans to jump and spill drinks on this unsuspecting writer — Weaver ended with “New Constellations,” a relatively mellow tune questioning “if there's just a little bit more” to life. She left the stage abruptly after the song ended with a hasty thank you, and didn’t perform an encore.
Nevertheless, Weaver put on an electrifying performance. Given the enthusiasm of the cadre of fans at this show, it’s a given that her next D.C. appearance will be at a venue far bigger than the 500-capacity U Street Music Hall.
Opening act Sam Dew, a Chicago artist with songwriting credits for songs by Rihanna and Wale, also drew a pack of dedicated fans. He wowed the crowd with tracks from his debut EP Damn Sue, released in April.
Dew’s soulful voice layered on top of textured electro tracks created a compelling sound usually only found on remixes; think a grittier version of Kygo’s new spin on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”
Dew’s impressive vocal range was on full display throughout his set; his falsetto soared in “Victor,” a self-affirmation anthem declaring “I won’t suffer a loss, not another day.”
Another highlight of Dew’s set was his sultry rendition of Bill Withers’ 1972 hit “Use Me,” which drew enthusiastic praise from the audience. Dew asked the audience to let him know if he wasn’t warming them up enough for Weaver; not only did he get the crowd psyched up for the night, but he won plenty of new fans in his own right.
Weaver and Dew will perform two more shows together, stopping at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass. on July 28 and Bowery Ballroom in New York on July 29. Weaver will then make appearances at the Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Outside Lands and Austin City Limits music festivals.