For over the past year, we’ve been hearing the words “send me your location…” blaring over our radio airwaves, sending you to a relaxed state of euphoria. Last night at Baltimore’s newly renamed MECU Pavilion, Khalid directly took us to that place in the flesh as part of his Roxy Tour.
The anticipation for this show was already at an alarming high as early as 5 PM, when crowds of young girls were already lined up outside of the venue awaiting for the gates to open so they could make a mad dash for those rightful “front row” lawn seats. Those lawn seats seemed like one of the greatest options of the night because it allowed said young girls to dance freely and get lost in this moment, which was made possible by the most beautiful weather that the Baltimore area has seen in weeks, so thanks The Great Khalid for THOSE good vibrations!
Most fans who were in attendance at the Roxy Tour primarily for Khalid were in for a treat, when new aged boy band PRETTYMUCH took the stage as the opening act. Yes you heard right, in 2018 I DID mention the word boy band. It appears that my not to distant history is starting to repeat itself as waves of boy bands are starting to once again infiltrate the music industry. If you weren’t into The Jonas Brothers or One Direction, then the group PRETTYMUCH would be more of your cup of tea. Put together by Simon Cowell (so you know they’re already pretty much destined for greatness right?), the California based group comprised of Austin, Brandon, Edwin, Nick and Zion is totally reminiscent of The Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC with their infections pop sound that is certainly a throwback to the 90s.
I was in my late teens during the MTV era of boy bands so I vividly remember what a great performance looks like, and the display that PRETTYMUCH put on seems as if they are on the right track. A diverse group of guys, check, individual personal style while keeping with one uniformed streamline look, check, stage production, check, the full package (singing, dancing, and boyish looks) check check, and screaming girls who somehow knew all the lyrics even IF this was their first time seeing the group, check check check.
They were given approximately 25 minutes to woo the crowd in what quite possibly was their “make or break” debut moment in Baltimore, and I think that it was a mission accomplished job for the 5 band mates. Performing songs lifted from their two EP’s “PRETTYMUCH So Far…” and “PRETTYMUCH an EP“, both of which were released earlier in the year, anyone watching was witnessing potential history in the making. Given that this was my first time even hearing about the group, they garnered levels of appreciation from me midway through their show based on the style of music that they decided to create. A bulk of their music catalog were uptempo tracks that came with high energy choreography which made you want to get up and just dance…and that’s the exact type of music that I’ve gravitated towards since being a small child. Of the material they performed, a few of the standout cuts were “Hello“, “Would You Mind“, “Jello” and closing song “On My Way”.
When you get the chance, I would urge you to check this budding group out. Although only two years into their existence, they could have the hooks to bring music back to a time when it created a universal happy space for all.
A brief intermission occurred that allowed for bathroom breaks, drink refills and crowd singalongs with the pre-show playlist, but also was a means for the stage to go through a “quick change” all in itself. With all of MECU Pavilion eagerly waiting for the next move, cheers started to fill the space and constant roars of “KHALID, KHALID!” could be heard clear on the other side of the Inner Harbor. Within the blink of an eye, everything went to black at 9:11 PM and a video intro played against the LED video wall that spanned the length of the stage. The video set the mood for the rest of the evening…in that it depicted a generally happy Khalid dancing in a store with what looked to be one of his fans. As the video wrapped up, lights began to illuminate the stage and Khalid was smoothly ejected from the pop-up toaster to stand at the center of his three tier stage in his signature “boy next door” look, including the high top fade. After opening the show with “8TEEN“, a shout out was given to the class of 2018 for completing high school and moving on to the next phase in life (you know, where you’re almost an adult, but not really), but also lent a message of reaffirmation to follow your dreams without letting other’s doubt bring you down.
As being a young adult himself, I immediately picked up on the connection that he made with his peers, and those in the subsequent age groups under them via his crowd interaction. Of an audience that was filled with all different types of demographics, at not one point in the show did Khalid make anyone feel unwelcome or excluded, several times reaching out into the audience to embrace a few fans. These were apparently the same fans that had gotten him to this very place in his career. What place you might ask? The last time Khalid performed in Baltimore, it was at an extremely intimate dive bar in 2017 that included little to no production value and now he’s packed out two nights at one of the area’s biggest concert venues with the WORKS. Every bit of this tour was what you would expect from a top billed act, live vocals, top notch stage production, four female dancers and a three piece band that brought the music to life. While he wasn’t trying to prove that he’s the strongest dancer, it’s obvious to see that he has been studying some of the greats from how he’s trying to hone stage presence skills.
Midway through his concert, he slowed things down a bit to sing his contribution to the soundtrack for the blockbuster movie “Black Panther“, a song entitled “The Was“, followed by the first song he ever wrote “Saved” and one of his most favorite songs “Hopeless“. What I found most impressive about The Roxy Tour was that in a show that lasted a little under an hour and a half running time, someway somehow all of his songs from his debut album “American Teen” found their way into the setlist, in addition to songs that were extra treats. I’ve been to a few debut tours from several different artists, and they MAY only give you 75% of their debut album, so for Khalid to give you his COMPLETE body of work in a live rendition, I can’t help but to give him all the props in the world.
Although the show relied heavily on the music we already know, what’s a tour without sprinkles of new music, because you know fans can’t get enough of that right? Towards the end of the concert, Khalid slid in the announcement that he would be releasing a new album in the fall, and proceeded to give us a prospective selection from that offering, in the form of a song we believe is titled “Faded In My Head“, along with 2 other unreleased tracks. Shortly after, the beginning chords of “Love Lies“, his duet with Ms. Normani Kordei, could be heard blasting from the speakers and ushering in the music video being played on the video wall. Granted Normani wasn’t in attendance, the ladies in the audience held down her verse.
Usual rule of thumb for any concert is to close out with your biggest hit, but there was a slight deviation in this methodology when “Location” appeared before the end of the concert. Nonetheless, the song still garnered some of the loudest applause of the night, and rightfully so. His four female dancers joined him on stage, and they surprisingly gave the song a new light, by adding a sexual vibe that previously didn’t exist.
The closing number of the night is the latest single that was released, “OTW”, which was aptly appropriate because from what I saw of the Roxy Tour, Khalid is well on his way to being one of those R&B staple artists of his generation.
Did you miss the show, or want to relive it for just a moment? Here’s your chance to get into these photos that our own Arturo Holmes shot.