Conan Gray takes on the House of Blues

Aimee Wiencek, Staff Reporter

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This past Saturday, Nov. 9, Conan Gray took center stage at Cleveland’s famous House of Blues venue. Cleveland was lucky enough to be one of the stops on the 20-year-old singer’s “The Comfort Crowd” tour, which includes 26 stops across the United States and Canada. The doors opened at 7 p.m., opening with rhythm and blues singer UMI at 8 p.m. Shortly after, Gray appeared on stage at 9 p.m. 

Gray, originally from Texas, came to fame from a YouTube channel he formed in 2013. With currently 1.57 million subscribers, Gray posts a variety of content such as his own music, covers of songs, vlogs and clips of his art. After posting many original songs on his channel, he officially released them on his debut EP, “Sunset Season,” in 2018 under Republic Records.

Republic Records describes Gray’s music as a “unique style of dreamy alternative pop. Bedroom pop tinged with raw, high school nostalgia—songs about kids grappling with regular life.” 

It is with no doubt that Gray’s music, as well as his vibe in general, emulates this description. From the minute that Gray stepped onto the stage, he captivated the audience. His stage presence was unmatchable, with him dancing and jumping around to the beat of the music. 

The crowd was incredibly receptive to Gray, singing along and matching his energy. His constant engagement, as well as his amazing live vocals, made the concert a real crowd-pleaser.

Gray performed many of his hit songs, including “Generation Why,” “Idle Town,” “Grow,” “Comfort Crowd,” “Crush Culture” and his newest hit “Maniac.” He took the time between each song to describe the story behind writing it and what the lyrics meant to him. For example, Gray explained to the audience how his small Texan town was the inspiration for his song “Idle Town”, and how even when he thought he was ready to leave and never look back, it is still the one place he will always call home. His vulnerability allowed the audience to connect with him on a deeper level. 

Despite Gray only being on stage for a little over an hour, the audience was definitely able to get its fill. As a surprise addition to his setlist, Gray performed a cover of the Jonas Brothers’ “Burnin’ Up” and sang a new, yet-to-be-released song from his upcoming debut album.

“[Gray] was such a fun and high-energy performer and I think he really interacted well with the audience and made the performance really personal,” second-year student Maeve Slife said. “I like that he sings about his real feelings and doesn’t sugarcoat difficult situations in his songs!”

The relaxed and nostalgic atmosphere of the House of Blues, in addition to Gray’s amazing stage presence, made the “dreamy alternative pop” truly come to life. The concert was definitely a night to remember and made the crowd, along with myself, even more excited to hear Gray’s new and upcoming album.  

Although he is still a relatively small artist, within a few more years, I have no doubt that he is going to become huge.