On March 5, Conan Gray took on the Coca-Cola Roxy stage with a performance filled with fun, emotion and even rage. Since his last tour in 2019, Gray has shifted from his YouTuber identity and bedroom-pop aesthetic to take on a more mature look and sound, but his bubbly internet persona and humor still shine through.
Before the concert even began, the crowd of fans dressed to impress with many donning pink cowboy hats, a representation of Gray’s home state of Texas and an homage to how he would wear the hat when performing his song “Idle Town” during his first tour.
Some fans had been waiting since 5 a.m. hoping to get a coveted barrier spot and for good reason, as at one point, Gray hopped off the stage to interact with fans closest to him.
Gray’s relationship with his fans is extremely refreshing to see in a time where social media and “clout” can make artists and celebrities seem so far from reality.
As a singer-songwriter, Gray has always made relatable music, especially to his predominately Gen Z audience. Gray’s music explores love, loss, heartbreak and self-discovery, which is why many fans would call his music “sad anthems.”
His current tour, titled “Conan Gray World Tour 2022” is promoting his debut indie-pop album called “Kid Krow.” It features nostalgic and sentimental tracks like “Comfort Crowd” and the catchy and angry “Checkmate.”
Overall, the album is very reminiscent of classic John Hughes movies in aesthetic and sound.
Before fans even passed the luminescent lights of the Coca-Cola Roxy’s marquee sign to watch the show, Gray himself came out to where the fans were waiting in line outside and handed out roses to a lucky few.
Once the audience filed into the venue, they were met with the opener for the North American leg of the tour, bülow.
Megan Bülow, also known as “bülow,” is a German-Canadian pop singer who excited the crowd with songs from her upcoming album and ended her set with the hit “You & Jennifer.”
For those who have not listened to “bülow” and her band before, it was an amazing experience to discover an artist in real-time and be able to see them perform live.
After “bülow’s” performance, the venue darkened before a projection of a crow in a birdcage lit up a large box with a screen on the stage. It went back to black and the crowd was antsy with anticipation. After a few moments, Gray appeared high above the stage at the top of the box with spotlights making him the sole focus.
Gray began his performance with one of his latest 1980s inspired dance-pop singles called “Telepath.” He bounced around the space above the stage with snippets of choreography like pointing to his temple when mentioning the title of the song. He eventually made his way down to the stage to continue his performance.
Throughout the night, the stage changed various times including different visual and light projections that followed the themes of the different songs. At one point, the “box” opened up to reveal Gray’s “bedroom” which included a set with a bed, posters on the walls and books. Grays tells the audience that he wrote many of his songs in his bedroom and wanted to bring his room to his fans.
Gray’s energy was boundless and it was a joy to watch an artist genuinely love being on stage. His attitude would shift from friendly and hopeful when offering words of encouragement to fans, to rage when singing his latest single “Jigsaw.” The song talks about how someone in Gray’s life would constantly criticize him, which caused Gray to lose himself and try to change for that person.
He eventually stopped listening to that person and relearned how to love himself as he is, and Gray told the crowd that they too should never try to change to be someone’s ideal. That message seemed to resonate with the audience as they were especially on fire for that song as they loudly sang along.
The show came to a close with Gray changing from his sparkling Victorian-esque top and black pants into a skirt and sweater vest. For his encore, he sang and played along with his guitar to one of his top hits “Heather.”
After the show ended, Gray took the time to meet with fans who had gathered near his tour bus hoping to see him before he left.
He accepted gifts from fans and even hugged a few, but even if he didn’t have a chance to personally talk to everyone, Gray made sure to look everyone in the eye and acknowledge them.
Conan Gray is a fun artist to watch, and he is both a talented songwriter and performer. He did a great job of taking the audience through the emotional highs and lows of his album and while also maintaining an incredible amount of energy throughout the night.
Gray has set a high bar for future concerts to come.