Christian Felner, whose stage name is Felly, found a love for music in the same town that I did. He began releasing music in my hometown of Trumbull, Connecticut while he was in high school and went on to pursue this passion at the University of Southern California. By graduation, he had released multiple EPs, toured the country, and co-founded a production group that he still performs with today.
I discovered music in the same small Connecticut town, where my parents would throw dance parties in the living room and my preschool teacher would play her guitar for us every chance she got. Finally protected by my vaccine and booster, I was prepped and ready to experience live music again, and starting with an artist from home felt right. Felly’s “Rush of the Road” performance at Union Stage did not disappoint.
From the moment the opener, Oliver Malcolm, took the stage, the audience was already transfixed. Malcolm possesses charisma, power, and the ability to belt like a true rock star. His ability to connect with the crowd was commanding and lifted his performance from mere opening act to an essential and impactful part of the night. During a dance break, he waltzed to the edge of the stage where I was furiously snapping pictures, locked eyes with me, and started to mimic the hip swivel I was subconsciously doing. This was not a unique moment, as Malcolm managed to sprinkle these seconds of real connection and joy with as many audience members as he could. For the duration of his performance, none of us were fans or audience members—we were a part of the show, as integral to Malcolm’s performance as the pounding drums or flashing lights. His eccentric dance moves and raspy scream created an energy larger than life, filling every crevice and crack of the venue.
Felly took the stage soon after Malcolm to an already buzzing and electric crowd. He exuded confidence and humility, completely comfortable stepping into the blinding spotlights, as a room of hundreds screamed his name. His contagious joy became incredibly apparent through Felly’s commitment to using the stage as a medium for creating a cohesive piece of performance art. He made a conscious effort to cover every inch of the stage as he jumped and danced so that no section of the room felt neglected—once again expressing the community driven nature of the show.
Within his catalog of music, Felly has managed to maintain his own voice while venturing into different musical styles. Songs like “Fabrics” and “Fresh Water” are perfect Lo-fi beats to bop your head to while studying or relaxing, while others like “Come Alive” and “Still Young” infuse higher energy elements of hip-hop that make you want to get up and dance. On his 2020 album, Mariposa (Deluxe), he stripped back four of his biggest hits to simple acoustic guitar, allowing his vocals and lyrics to shine. By refusing to be tied down to one genre or style, Felly seems to produce whatever makes him most happy in the moment. His authenticity and genuine joy have allowed him to continue to churn out music, releasing 8 albums since 2014.
Through integration of recording and remixing technology into the acoustic performances, Felly added depth and variety to the performance. He played guitar for about half the show and utilized a multi-pedal footboard to creatively reshape its sound by layering chords with ease. His band switched back and forth effortlessly between live drums and digital mixes.
The lighting that doused the stage in vibrant color throughout the night also worked to create a depth of tone in Felly’s performance. He came out initially with some of his bigger, hip-hop heavy songs accompanied by layered purple and blue spotlights pointed towards the crowd, highlighting their jumping bodies and grinning faces.. As the energy built, and the crowd’s screams became a roar, the lights turned into a red that encompassed the entire room like fire. Later when he brought out the guitar and played some of his more emotionally heavy tracks, the lights became hazier and dimmer, and the focus shifted to the center of the stage where Felly stood. The shift in lighting facilitated the similarly timed shift in mood from party-mode to a more peaceful and introspective state that took place in the latter half of the show. This diversity in style and tone exemplified Felly’s multi-faceted talent for performance, all the while maintaining a sense of intimacy with his audience.
I left Union Stage filled with a strange sense of pride for this person who happened to grow up near me. Music is my first love. I love to create it, consume it, dance to it, and surround myself with it. Christian Felner, or Felly, loved music too and got the chance to chase down his dreams. As he continues to play at larger and larger venues and release more and more hits, spreading his joy and passion, I will continue to cheer on from afar—the kid from Trumbull, CT who made it.