In less than two years Khalid went from selling out two nights at Terminal 5 to selling out two nights at Madison Square Garden. While the venue, the trope of backup dancers and his star power have grown, Khalid performs with the same vigor and love for his fans as he did when he first emerged in 2016.
Claire Cottrill, who goes by her stage name, Clairo, opened for Khalid on the eve of her debut LP, Immunity. The indie-pop singer first gained notoriety with her 2017 single, “Pretty Girl” and she has been seducing fans with her shoegaze musings ever since. On stage she previewed her new LP, which does not disappoint. With help from Rostam Batmanglij (formerly of Vampire Weekend), Clairo released an LP that delicately unpacks the complexities of relationships through her compelling storytelling and vocals. Clairo floated off the stage on a wave of cheers and shortly before Khalid emerged.
The opening notes of “Free Spirit” announced Khalid’s arrival on stage. Backed by a team of dancers, Khalid coursed through most of his seventeen-track, sophomore album and played a handful of favorites from American Teen. When you watch Khalid perform, you see that he is still humbled by his fans, but he has lost the look of wonder that suggested he was unsure if he belonged on stage.
This tour, like the album, is different from the last. The subject of Khalid’s sophomore album, Free Spirit shifts from the collective “we” to speaking in first person. Instead of focusing on the day to day that the average teenager faces, he unpacks the struggles of stardom and feelings of isolation. This is evident in “Twenty One” where he laments, “Cause I’m in pain/ But I’m to blame/ To end this fire/ I have to change.” While inward looking and self-reflective, it is not to say that the recent album is void of support. Like his freshman album and previously singles with hitmakers like Billie Eilish, Calvin Harris, Logic and Marshmello, collaborations with Disclosure, John Mayer and Stargate provide additional layers to his R&B grooves. Khalid is on tour in the United States through mid-August before continuing abroad.
Article: Alx Bear