Sivan stunned alongside well-matched opening acts Kim Petras and Carlie Hanson
After releasing the personal-yet-glossy debut album Blue Neighbourhood in late 2015, Troye Sivan and co. elaborated upon its original content for the US singles; by remixing and adding an Alessia Cara feature, “Wild” became less unique, and more radio-friendly. His no-holds-barred sophomore album Bloom pivots completely in the opposite direction, fully leaning into the personal side with little-to-no audible sense of catering to radio. As a track title suggests, it’s truly “The Good Side” of Sivan.
His sold-out State Theatre crowd on October 17 was unanimously supportive of that artistic decision, having already memorized every single syllable of all Bloom tracks performed — despite it being less than two months after the LP’s release. That’s the kind of devoted fandom that the 23-year-old Australian singer has cultivated through genuine connection with supporters both online and in person.
Blue Neighbourhood songs were met with a mix of sweet nostalgia and fresh excitement, as surely only a portion of the State Theatre-sized crowd was able to pack into First Avenue for Sivan’s previous Minneapolis gig a few years back. Many fans were hearing their old favorites live for the first time, like “Wild,” on which one of Sivan’s fantastic female backing vocalists sang Alessia Cara’s guest verse. That trend continued in performances songs like “Heaven” and “Dance to This,” with the backing vocalists lending their talents to parts originally sang by Betty Who and Ariana Grande, respectively.
At times The Bloom Tour felt so interactive, that in the best way it was less a show than a 360 experience. Phones were up, but unlike most concerts in 2018, people didn’t seem desperate to capture the moment. They seemed to understand the best way to capture the moment, was to actually be in it — something Troye Sivan encouraged throughout the night, rewarding individual fans in the crowd with meet and greets and kudos for birthdays and handing out flyers before the show. The crowd even interacted with the crowd, such as when friend groups separated by rows, aisles and even the balcony were seen waving and pantomiming in between and during performances.
The full-out dancing and excitement of the crowd during songs like “Bite” was encouraged by the artist himself, both outright in his banter in between songs, and in the Las Vegas club-like light rig on the back of the stage. Epilepsy warning signs were posted outside entrances, as the intense light show was intentionally bold, yet seriously exhilarating.
There’s a lot of talk about how Sivan feels like familiar artists — David Bowie, Adam Lambert, Lorde — but not enough talk about how he’s unlike anyone else. Able to bring fans together, in the moment, in the otherwise disassociated times we live in. Able to ignite an entire crowd, but also single out individual fans for their contribution to his show. And perhaps it’s due to the venue not being able to handle stadium-level crowd roar, but I cannot for the life of me remember back to a concert with crowd feedback on par with The Bloom Tour. Not even at Madonna, or peak Britney.
Mere human ears cannot distinguish individual sounds when Sivan elicits peak response from fans in rapture. It’s hard to describe the sensation of your sense of hearing temporarily shorting out due to one human being in the front of room being the target of utter pandemonium. It just feels like pure love.
We’re in a drought. The wells of pop music have been dried up for a while now, with most well-known pop acts pivoting to other genres like country and R&B to appeal to changing tastes in the general public. Who can save us with a bubblegum pop anthem on the level of Britney Spears’ pop genre-resurrecting 1998 debut single “…Baby One More Time”?
The clear frontrunner is Kim Petras, a 26-year-old Millennial pop artist that is a perfect antidote for an otherwise pretty boring sonic landscape. Already a favorite on “Stan” Twitter — the social network’s community of rabid pop music fans — Petras has quickly proceeded to win the Twin Cities’ affection with a successful radio campaign for her most notable track, “Heart to Break.” Fittingly, she took a moment to thank local Top 40 station KDWB for playing that single more often than any other station in the United States.
In “Heart to Break,” Kim Petras belts a strong pop chorus written about reckless abandon in newfound love. It’s the kind of vocally challenging chorus that relies solely on the strength of the lead singer, and just as Petras nailed it in the studio, she delivered live on stage in Minneapolis. Her sincere vocals layered perfectly over the slamming pop beat of her backing DJ/co-producer Aaron Joseph, making the infectious bop-of-a-song a perfect match for the authenticity-seeking crowd of Troye Sivan fans.
Fans were also lit-up by performances of fresh tracks from her deservedly-lauded Halloween mixtape Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1. The ghostly crooner “Tell Me It’s a Nightmare” pulls double duty as a pop banger and somewhat of a torch ballad. Both Petras and Joseph took things to new heights, jumping up and down to beat-heavy tracks like this and “I Don’t Want It At All.”
Though she has said, “I just hate the idea of using my identity as a tool,” Kim Petras’ identity as a transgender woman is another aspect that makes her a needed addition to current mainstream music. While the Trump administration actively moves to legislate away trans rights, Petras serves as a bubblegum pop champion for our times; showing LGBT kids and adults alike that they can succeed against adversity. The LGBT community’s support of out and proud public figures like her has become vital to our community’s freedom.
Kim Petras ended her State Theatre set with a triumphant vocal performance of “Can’t Do Better,” a fittingly titled anthem about a lover not being able to find a replacement for her. Fans of pop music likely also can’t do better than Petras, a rare artist that mixes power pop with power vocals.
[Review by Jake]
Alongside her band, 18-year-old pop artist Carlie Hanson emerged on stage to thunderous applause from a crowd generally close to her age. She immediately launched into “Why Did You Lie?” — an exciting first song, full of energy that pumped up the crowd.
Hanson announced her next song was “Toxins,” a new single that would debut on streaming platforms only two days later. She bounced across the stage while her infectious hook and her bands’ skilled playing enchanted the State Theatre. Despite the song not being out yet at the time, many in the crowd were seen bobbing their heads and dancing in their seats.
A personal touch came when Hanson interacted with the lit-up crowd, announcing that her best friends from her hometown of Blue Cross, Wisconsin were at the show. She complemented this more tender moment with a more chill, unreleased song, “Hazel,” notable for its hypnotic beat. Background lighting was used very well during this performance, starting with blue hues, then greens shifting into blaring reds in the chorus.
The effervescent Hanson invited everyone to sing along to her streaming hits, and also took care to properly introduce her band members. She proclaimed her last song — the Instagram and Drake-referencing “Us” — was “a fuck you anthem,” and asked the won-over crowd stick their middle fingers up. Lighting once again lent an artful touch to the performance, with deep and dark reds that transformed the State Theatre into a darkroom, with bright white strobe lights during the chorus for emphasis.
What’s your favorite Troye Sivan song? DM me on Instagram.