If you happened to walk down Danforth Avenue on Sunday evening, you may have been the line of people wrapped around the block. Through a wind and rainstorm a sold-out crowd prevailed to achieve the best spot they could to see rising pop star Hayley Kiyoko.
Before she took to the stage, hometown boy Langston Francis was sent out to warm every one up. Strapped with an acoustic guitar he sang multiple original songs, with a powerful vocal ability that left you awe. Before starting to play his most recent single“FKD IT UP”, he was absolutely blown away by the crowd support and response to the songs he hadn’t written when he was only fourteen years old. Langston showed off his musicality has he constantly switched from acoustic guitar to keyboard. Every single person sang along as he covered Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team”. It was definitely an amazing show and platform for the young talent to gain traction and support.
A thunderous applause and piercings screams welcomed Hayley Kiyoko to Toronto, as she kicked things off The Expectations Tour with “Under The Blue”. Kiyoko had a simple but incredibly effective set that was five domino like structures, which played her music videos in between. The crowd went absolutely crazy when a snippet from the music video “Girls Like Girls” began. With her back to the crowd to start of the song, Hayley was absolutely floored when she turned around and saw 1200 colourful hearts being back lit with cellphones and pointed in her direction. She was about 5 minutes into her set and already on the verge of tears, it was such a moving atmosphere. The thing about Hayley is, as a queer artist she creates this incredibly safe space where those who are closeted, or questioning or proudly out all feel visible and loved.
That incredible fan project caped off a beautiful relationship between Toronto and Kiyoko, elevating the evening to one of her favourite shows in recent memory. With all the emotional still heightened Hayley took a minute to talk to everyone to let the know that if they are struggling with anything that it was never too late to talk to someone about it. This transitioned into a slower song “The Side of Paradise” which she stated was a tough song for her to sing, because she wasn’t in the best place when she wrote it, and performing the song brings her back into that headspace. For me personally this is one of my favourite songs she’s ever written so I was completely blown away getting the opportunity to hear it live. It is a very slow and melancholy song then really highlights her raw and emotional vocals.
Hayley has an incredible stage presence, and is an amazing dancer, which is really highlighted on this tour. She interacted a lot with the crowd during dance breaks that amplified everyone to extreme heights. Kiyoko was so grateful for Toronto’s energy and love for her music, she told everyone that she wanted to come back to the Danforth Music Hall every single Sunday to perform. It was the kind of show you’ll never forget, and it was wrapped up perfectly as the extro for “Gravel To Tempo” was playing and Hayley waved the pride flag from side to side, you felt moved. Quite frankly the music industry needs more queer artist like Hayley, she is an incredible singer/songwriter and human being. It was the perfect evening and introduction to pride month.