Ben Platt Has a New Platform


All photos by Serena Young.

(Above) Aly and AJ opened the concert with their hypnotic folk voices and playful guitar strings. The two sisters had an empathetic connection with each other that radiated far beyond the stage. They certainly had the crowd cheering, especially for fans who know them from the Disney Channel airing their shows. All photos by Serena Young.

Delaney Bolstein and Serena Young, Co-Editor/Director of Media and Director of Advertising

Grammy, Emmy, and Tony award-winning artist, Ben Platt, hit the road after the release of his sophomore album, Reverie, a year ago. Reverie, as an album, encapsulates Platt’s blooming love life in his long-term relationship (I too was disappointed in the lack of angry breakup songs) while still delivering glimpses of his signature vulnerability seen best through Dear Evan Hansen, a Broadway show turned movie that Platt originated about a highschooler with social anxiety. On October 6, Platt stopped by the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Using the Twice-Told Tale’s partnership with entertainment provider, MOXIE, I, along with fellow staff, Serena Young, and Tina Zhang, attended the concert.

I didn’t really know Ben Platt before going into the arena. I saw Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway and assumed he was still riding that high, especially with the movie coming out last year. I adored the play and in that respect, thought highly of him. As the concert approached, the idea of listening to his albums came up, but in what can only be described as pure procrastination, I put it off in the name of this article, reasoning that going into the concert blind would be best. And so, the first time I heard Ben Platt’s albums was live.

Truthfully, I would take everything I say with a grain of salt. The day of the concert was that Thursday of the week after Hurricane Ian, and I reached a personal record of how little sleep I got. There was no hype left in me. Also, I am not the typical demographic of Ben Platt. I’ve never participated in musical theater, and I’m more of a slower song kind of person: a sharp cry from the, “Get on your feet” upbeat songs of Reverie. I would have not been inclined to purchase a ticket if it were not for MOXIE. Still, that being said, the concert surpassed my expectations by a long shot, the highlight being Aly and AJ, Platt’s opener.

I knew sisters, Aly and AJ from, what can only be described as a one-hit wonder, “Potential Breakup Song.” In an attempt to warm up the arriving audience, Aly and AJ ran through tracks like “Lost Cause” and my favorite, “Pretty Places,” while en-
couraging the crowd to get on their feet and sway their arms. I adored them. All the songs, with the exception of “Potential Breakup Song” which concluded the set, were driven by folky melodies and breathy vocals reminiscent of California rays of sun. Their music felt like the soundtrack to a coming-of-age movie, and I was entranced. Accompanied by a three-person band and captivating chemistry that can only be attributed to them being sisters, Aly and AJ, in my opinion, outperformed Ben Platt.

After 30 minutes between sets, Ben Platt made his dramatic entrance. The lights went dark except for strobe spotlights pointed towards center stage. The first chords of his album opener, “King of the World Pt. 1,” rang through the arena while the audience got on their feet, phones recording in hand. The curtains opened, the music stopped, and Platt belted out the first lyrics. His crisp, but booming, voice echoed through the crowd. Beginning what would be a 90 minute set.

Despite his exciting debut, Platt’s biggest fault was the album itself. Reverie sounds like a lazy attempt to mimic Gen Z’s synthetic pop obsession, relying on electronic harmonies rather than guitar strums or piano keys. Platt’s signature vulnerability in both singing and lyricism were overshadowed by his desire to produce the next pop anthem. The fourth song in Platt’s set, “Happy to be Sad,” describes how lucky he is to have someone that makes saying goodbye hard. In what could have been an opportunity to dig deep into the beautiful simplicity of love, Platt instead opts for lazy rhymes that just barely scratch at the surface of his feelings like the lyric, “I’m sad that you are gone.” The way his voice quivered when he talked, how he paced in between songs, and the gratitude he expressed for the audience, felt like a far cry from the disco-pop melodies Platt performed.

I do have to applaud Platt for not putting himself in a box. Growing up performing musical theater, and getting his big break in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen (which his father produced) at 23, his career path could have been a straight line. But, in
an attempt to build up his repertoire, Platt expanded beyond the stage. He appeared in the Pitch Perfect movies, and starred in the Netflix show, The Politician. As much as I disfavor Platt’s diversion from raw, emotional, songs, his concert proved that he can
be more than an awkward, stumbling, teenager that the media often portrays him as, while staying true to his musical theater roots. My favorite song of Platt’s set, “She Used to Be Mine,” from the Broadway production of Waitress, reminded the audience of Platt’s beginnings, and, more importantly, that he has an incredible voice that doesn’t need autotune overlays.