Conan Gray Conquers Cleveland with “Superache” tour


Courtesy of Republic Records

Last Saturday, Sept. 24, Conan Gray graced the stage at Jacobs Pavillion to share his journey through heartbreak, acceptance and family turmoil from his album “Superache”

Shivangi Nanda, Copy Editor

With COVID-19 restrictions finally easing up, concerts are once again in session; artists have begun long-anticipated tours across the country, and we can once again feel the anxiety of buying tickets, getting in line early to secure the best seats and having goosebumps as our favorite artist emerges onto the stage. I had the pleasure of experiencing all of this and more last Saturday, Sept. 24, at Jacobs Pavillion for Conan Gray’s “Superache” concert. 

As someone who has listened to the “Kid Krow” album about a million times and knows every word to “Maniac,” I was certain this concert would be a weekend well-spent—plus, the venue was just a short 20-minute ride from campus. Before I get into my thoughts and praise, here is a little context on Conan Lee Gray, a 23-year-old American singer and songwriter, whose recent album “Superache” debuted in the Top 10 in five countries. Like many artists of his generation, Gray got his big break from YouTube—truly humble beginnings. Launched in 2013, Gray’s channel included vlogs of his daily life in addition to self-produced music recordings. Four years later, Gray released his debut song “Idle Town” which received 14 million listens on Spotify. From there, his success soared. In November 2018, Gray released his EP “Sunset Season” and in March 2020, he released his first full album “Kid Krow,” my personal favorite. Now, “Superache,” embodies the next part of his music-making journey. 

Arguably the most diverse album in his collection, “Superache”—contrary to its name—tackles more than just tragic love stories. Through this album, Gray touches on the ideas of friendship, heartache, family turmoil and acceptance. For instance, in “Family Line,” Gray turns his complicated family situation into an artistic appreciation for his past. On the other hand, “Footnote,” much like his previous hit song “Heather,” highlights the relatable story of a one-sided, unrequited love. As in past albums, each song is simple with its words and rich in emotion. And in concert, every one of these emotions becomes so much more real and memorable. 

Surrounded by an audience united by their love for Gray’s work, I felt like a part of something bigger. So, when Gray finally hit the stage—working the most elegant white, glittery matching shirt and pants set—I joined in on the uproar. The cheers quickly fell silent as the lights dimmed and a heart projected onto the stage, signaling the start of this “Superache” journey. This backdrop was made more beautiful by the perfect fall weather—very unlike Cleveland—and the intimate view of the sunset along the Cuyahoga River. With the mood set, we could not wait for the music. 

Gray did not disappoint. As a performer, he was powerful and vibrant, moving across the stage with swiftness and constantly encouraging the audience to join in on lyrics. Staying true to his roots, Gray accompanied some instrumentals with live guitar. With his increasing fame, it felt special to see Gray go back to his more simple music-making roots. At the same time, this variety in the song presentation made for an even more dynamic performance, which—coupled with the persistent cheers from fans—further uplifted the mood. For certain sections, Gray included song introductions that provided context for his lyrics and message. In doing so, he bared a level of vulnerability and charm, leveling himself with the audience and better connecting them with his past. When the set list was complete, we were offered one last hurrah with an encore, before the applause of fans signaled the official end. A perfect ending to a near-perfect evening.

So, while I accept that Gray’s music style is not for everyone, his stage presence, love for music and his fans made this concert something special. His personality shows through in his raw lyrics and his ability to make every person in the audience feel warm and welcomed. Gray is just one of those artists that feels approachable and “normal” even after all this success. For this reason and more, I implore you to take the opportunity to become a part of the Gray family—even if just for night—and experience the beauty of his music and the passion of his performance.