FINNEAS is Not Just Billie Eilish’s Brother: A Concert Review

If you’re a big fan of the teenage pop star Billie Eilish, you might recognize her older brother Finneas O’Connell (by his stage name stylized in all caps), who performs alongside Billie at all of her shows. From their Los Angeles childhood home, he launched his sister’s career by co-writing and producing her breakthrough hit “Ocean Eyes,” which went viral on SoundCloud. Since then, Finneas has co-written and produced Billie’s debut EP don't smile at me and her album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? But what you don’t know, but most definitely should, is that Finneas is his own artist sans Billie. He recently released his solo EP titled Blood Harmony and wrapped up his first headlining tour at Boston’s iconic Paradise Rock Club, which I was lucky enough to attend.

Photo Credit: FINNEAS​

I was first introduced to FINNEAS’ music during my senior year of high school, which is a monumental year in anyone’s life. It’s the last year of normalcy – of childhood – before everything changes. So his music makes me nostalgic, to say the least. That year, FINNEAS released his single “Let’s Fall in Love for the Night,” and for a couple of weeks, I played that song on loop. I fell in love with his unique voice. It was deep and soulful but could still reach all of the high notes. But even more than that, his lyrics, song production, and artistic vision are masterful. Coupled with soft piano melodies and electronic beats, most of his music touches on the subject of romance, even having a track named after his girlfriend, Claudia Sulewksi, which he wrote the day that he met her.

Photo Credit: Sarah Ju

After having the most stressful week of my college career, I desperately needed those few hours of freedom more than ever. While I was still in class, my friend Abby started lining up for the show around 2 pm, befriending the mother and daughter next to her in line, who drove all the way from Connecticut to attend the show. I couldn’t help but jump up and down in excitement as the line got longer and the time until the show got shorter.

There were some people in line to see the opening act Lauren Sanderson, who brought such high energy to the stage and got everyone even more hyped up to see FINNEAS. After waiting for what felt like an eternity, but was actually only twenty minutes, the stage lit up in white bars and the opening notes of “I Lost a Friend” began playing. The cheers were deafening. FINNEAS walked out in an all-white suit, lingering for a moment in the lit-up doorframe, then sitting down at the piano to begin the show. He showed his variety as a performer, switching between piano, guitar, and just vocals. Most of his songs were reproduced for the stage as they transitioned into more electronic beats to give us an opportunity to dance around. And, boy, did I dance.

Photo Credit: Sarah Ju

I became more infatuated with FINNEAS with every song that passed, even fangirling a bit when he reached out to grab my hand (and like five other girls, but who’s counting). I had been preparing myself for his last song, which came much too quickly: “Let’s Fall in Love for the Night,” my favorite song of his. I asked my friend Sarah to record it for me because I knew I wouldn’t be able to, and I was right. The second he started singing, I burst into tears as it instantly transported me back in time. But they were happy tears. Nostalgic, but happy.

FINNEAS exceeded all of my expectations and more. By just seeing him on social media or in interviews, FINNEAS seemed to be a slightly nerdy, nervous 22-year-old, but FINNEAS is a performer. He exudes confidence and commands an audience. He knows how to move around a stage as he exhibited some smooth, fancy footwork. But he also knows how to slow things down, like with “Partner in Crime.” And in-between songs, he talked to the audience, personalizing it for each show. Addressing his love for the city of Boston, Finneas said, “There’s something in the water, and I think it’s cocaine. Because everyone here is out of their goddamn minds” – but in the best way possible.

Keep an eye out for FINNEAS – he’s just getting started. His music is unlike anything I’ve heard before, and drastically different from what he creates with and for his sister. FINNEAS’ love for music radiates out of him, from the production to the performance – he puts everything into his music. His talent alone is deserving of more recognition. He’s so much more than Billie Eilish’s brother – he’s FINNEAS.

 

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