As soon as Khalid burst on to the stage at Hammersmith Apollo it became easy to see where his ‘sudden’ success was birthed – it lies somewhere in between his contagious passion and the devoted fan base who practically performed alongside him.
The singer, who only just turned 20 this week, got his big break when Kylie Jenner used a section of his trademark song Location on a Snapchat video two years ago when the Texan singer was still in the weird stage between teenagehood and adulthood.
And therein lies the theme of his art, the raw depiction of misplacement is evident in his sound as he sings about the struggles of relationships in a tech-savvy world on top of 80’s synths besides two American cheerleaders with shiny pom poms.
Khalid’s fanbase, judging by the dominating demographic in the West London room on 15 February, is Generation Z – and it is this group of emerging and spanking news adults who eagerly lap up his fusion of old school vibrations with modern themes of being Young, Dumb and Broke (aptly the title of one of his songs).
The artist, whose debut album went platinum, is uniquely gifted and may remind older fans of an adolescent Chris Brown – not due to any vocal similarities but for his energy and ability to connect with his peers when working the stage. But despite his old-school youthfulness, there is nothing immature about the way he presents his craft.
The American Teen singer displayed no sign of struggle and he danced and sang for all but one song and soon the gig turned into one big sing-along as Saved, Angels, Cold Blooded and Hopeless left us, and Khalid, in our feelings.
Although anyone over the age of 21 may easily feel isolated at a Khalid gig, there is nothing alienating about his lyrics. So our suggestion, for millennials and above, is to enjoy his music at home – away from the screaming fans – where it’ll be easier to identify why he received five Grammy nominations this year.
Also, the joy that Khalid brought to the intimate venue could work even better in a festival setting as his tracks, including Winter, sound perfectly fitting for a drunken summer evening in a field.
Khalid set list
Another Sad Love Song
Silence (marshmello cover)
Rollin(Calvin Harris cover)
Young Dumb & Broke
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