As Portland, Oregon singer-songwriter Corey Harper crooned over acoustic melodies, Becker Amphitheater became a refuge from the sun and the bustle of Discoverfest Wednesday.
Curious about the concert, passing students stopped to join the crowd. Stepping outside the frame of Discoverfest, they walked into a more tranquil world manifested by Harper’s mellow performance. Despite sweat barreling down their faces, the audience looked serene listening to his performance.
A large crowd gathered at the start of the show but continued to grow throughout the concert. Although they could not fully escape the simmering heat, many found shade under a tree near the stage.
Although he’s usually backed by a band, Harper performed with only an acoustic guitar and an accompanying guitarist, bringing a more skeletal and laid-back energy to his ruminative songs about personal freedom and relationships. Comprised of original material, the choice to go acoustic made the set feel like an intimate confession.
According to his website, Harper aims to cross the vintage sound of blues and country with that of contemporary singer-songwriters.
Growing up, his parents would play a mixture of classic rock, and his own interest in musicians like Ben Howard lead to a natural development and musical direction for him as an artist, Harper said.
“I think (music) kind of just found its way into my soul and in my heart,” Harper said. “The way it comes out is the way I hear it.”
Harper’s music often channels the soulful twang of John Mayer, which encouraged ASI Wednesday Concert Coordinator Brennan Lyell to book the singer for the first show in this semester’s concert series.
“One of my goals this year is to bring all types of genres,” Lyell said.
He hopes the Becker Amphitheater concerts will become not just a source for weekly entertainment but a place for students to discover new artists as well.
The Northwestern musician opened for Justin Bieber during the Pacific Northwest run of the “Purpose Tour” last year. Soon after, Harper released his 2016 EP “On the Run,” for which he brought his influences together into a signature style of bluesy Americana. Following the release of his first project, he toured throughout the United States.
Along with Cal State Fullerton students in attendance, there were Corey Harper fans who visited the campus just to see him perform.
Third-year Orange Coast College student, Taylor Ann Zoepfel, who was looking forward to the concert, loved Harper’s unexpected acoustic set and the calming nature of his music.
“I’m a big fan of very easy-listening music and I think he really delivers that well,” Zoepfel said.
Some fans came from as far as San Diego, like Hannah Harrington, who said she made a two hour drive and missed class to catch Harper’s set. Like Zoepfel, she enjoyed the musical direction of the performance.
“His acoustic sets really create that personal, intimate feel,” Harrington said, adding that being outside, in a small venue heightened the closeness she felt during the concert.
While he does not tour universities as often anymore, Harper said he still enjoys performing for college students, noting that he was happy and encouraged by the turnout for the show.
“It was really cool to see people come out and show support for my music, especially in a place I’ve never been before,” Harper said.