The small but spacious Great American Music Hall in San Francisco was packed with people on an otherwise quiet Sunday evening Oct. 18, and minutes before the main act was scheduled to come out, the fans all started chanting as one: “Troye! Troye! Troye!” Just as the chant began to die down, actor, YouTuber and musician Troye Sivan appeared onstage, and the crowd screamed and shrieked with excitement.
A few days before, in a phone interview with The Daily Californian, Sivan had mentioned that he has “such, such fond memories” of San Francisco, having visited before. He tells the story of his time in the city on the weekend of the Super Bowl “the year that Bruno Mars was playing.”
“And you can tell I’m not a football fan by the way I said that Bruno Mars was playing the Super Bowl. I have no idea who was playing, like, sports-wise,” he laughed. Fortunately, what he lacks in sports knowledge he gains in musical aptitude, something that is communicated through his music and his performance.
The recent release of Sivan’s new EP, Wild, has been accompanied by a string of tour dates across America before bringing the tour to Australia, Sivan’s home country.
“I want to be really, really good by the time I get to Australia,” he laughed. “Because having family and friends at a show, that’s probably going to be the most nervous that I’ll ever be. So I wanted to start off in places across the world. I think it’s a little bit comforting to me.”
Wild was met with critical and commercial acclaim, as Sivan’s melodious voice somehow perfectly combines with heavy beats and infectious synth. Recreating the delicately intertwined instrumental and vocal lines would prove to be a challenge in itself: performing such a thoroughly produced album in a live setting requires meticulous care and demands precision from each band member.
But even as Sivan hit the first note of his opening song, “Bite,” it was clear that not only were these requirements satisfied, but also that the audience was in for a truly special evening. Frankly, Sivan’s performance was better than anything he had recorded — nothing digital had come close to encapsulating his electricity and personality, not to mention his raw talent.
Despite only having released his first major label EP, TRXYE, just over a year ago, Sivan seemed as though he had been performing his whole life during his concert. And while he’s used to the spotlight in some ways — his YouTube channel has over 3.5 million subscribers — this is a relatively new experience for the singer. But it certainly doesn’t seem that way: His voice is unwavering and rich, his movements fluid and comfortable.
“What a cool way to see the world, you know?” Sivan said in his interview, expressing enthusiasm for his life on tour. “This is my first time in a lot of these places. And to be there, knowing that the reason why I’m there is to play for people who have paid to come and hear the music is the coolest thing the world.” And you could tell he genuinely felt this way — his honest exuberance about performing came across clearly. “All I need is for you guys to have fun,” he interjected between songs.
Most impressively, Sivan’s voice had no trouble holding up against the heavy instrumentals with perfect pitch and a tone as sweet as the bass was strong. This combination created a chilling effect, particularly on “Fools” and “DKLA.”
With this tour, Sivan is also previewing some of the tracks on his upcoming album Blue Neighborhood, and introduced a few of them to the crowd in San Francisco. The first, “Talk Me Down,” was beautiful and emotionally driven, and had been released only a few days prior — so almost everyone in the venue was singing along. At the end, Sivan endearingly quipped, “You guys sound fuckin’ better than me.” “Suburbia,” the next unreleased track he performed, immediately surrounded the audience in an incredibly resonant bass.
Sivan dynamically ended the show with “Wild,” the title track of his most recent EP. Of course, the moment he left the stage, fans scream-shouted “Encore!” repeatedly until he came out a few minutes later. Thrilled, he beamed, “Fine, I’ll do another song.” And he did two — the first, an acoustic version of “Happy Little Pill,” which really showed off his vocal capabilities. The second, “Youth,” was another sneak preview of a song from his upcoming album, and arguably best captured his sound out of the whole set — a great note to end on.
After years of connecting with his audience solely through his films and YouTube videos, Sivan is truly appreciative of the opportunity to see and perform for his fans face-to-face. “It’s such a different experience,” he said. “Just seeing what they would do if they were at home listening in their bedrooms. What parts make them move, make them wanna cry. … Seeing that in person is a whole new level of connection.”
Contact Paige Petrashko and Rosemarie Alejandrino at [email protected].