As the curtain opens, Cody Simpson emerges wearing a cool, California-style denim jacket and black converse and immediately the audience knows that he’s not your average pop star.

He’s here to play music with good vibes, a beachy rhythm and relatable lyrics. He opens up with a riff that begins his song “Free” from his new album and the crowd explodes with excitement. Throughout the show, Cody proves to us multiple times that he has evolved from your typical teenage pop star into an incredible, independent musician.

1. Opening Solo

The show starts with Cody crouched down, showing off his guitar skills as he weaves an amazing, bluesy solo into the beginning of his song “Free.” How many typical pop stars can do that?

2. He Closes His Eyes When He Plays

You know someone is a truly talented musician when he or she can play guitar with eyes closed. Cody was feeling the music with every solo, as his fingers expertly flew over the guitar strings and he swayed to the rhythm. I’ve only seen seasoned rock stars do that so props to you, Cody.

Via Neon Tommy/Zoe Willis
Via Neon Tommy/Zoe Willis

3. Drum Save

As Cody stepped to the side to give the stage to his awesome drummer, the solo was so crazy that the bass drum shifted forward. Cody, like a pro, knelt down next to the drum and held it there while still jamming out to the music. Most pop stars have too many dancers, lights, confetti, fireworks, or whatever crazy effects on stage to even notice such a thing. But we saw you, Cody. Nice save, and we appreciate you looking out for your other band members.

4. Leaving Atlantic Records

While most musicians chasing fame would love to be signed with Atlantic Records, Cody took a few minutes before one of his songs to describe how he left the record label to start his own independent career. He finally was able to write the music he’s always wanted to, and we love him for it.

5. Mashed up his song “ABC” with Jackson 5’s “ABC”

Just when we think Cody has finished his song “ABC,” he starts up again playing a riff and singing the popular Jackson 5 song “ABC.” How many pop stars do you know of that could jam out to that, let alone weave it into their own song? Only a truly talented musician can execute that as well as Cody did.

Via Neon Tommy/Zoe Willis
Via Neon Tommy/Zoe Willis

6. 12-Bar Blues Medley

Ah yes, the blues riff in E that we were all waiting for since he mentioned it in our interview with him. This is one of his most defining moments as being greater than any typical pop star, because it demonstrated his passion for a different genre of music. As he played the opening riff, the crowd started clapping and really getting into it. He continues the riff and starts soloing over it, astonishing the audience with his talent.

7. Hound Dog

Um, can we talk about when Cody surprises us all by belting out the Elvis Presley lyrics, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” in his blues medley? The audience went absolutely crazy. Definitely by this point Cody deserved so much more than the typical pop star label. He didn’t even put a pop flair to the song, just played the good old rhythm and classic twang. He’s a talented musician and performer for pulling off this rockin’ tune.

Well there you have it — Cody Simpson is more than your average pop star based on what we saw during his show. He’s a talented songwriter who knows how to write good music, connect with the audience, and put on a good show. For that, we can’t wait to see what he has in store with his Venice-based this year.

Reach Staff Reporter Shea Lenniger here.