Photos by Katrina Lat
Khalid is that new Americana; a nineteen year-old sharing narratives representing what it means to be young in an era where photo exchanges disappear and analyzing hyperlinked words on phones a common practice. But amidst his contemporary are the seasoned realities of this time period; to experience first loves, to make mistakes, to learn, to be heartbroken, and to revel in all of it as much as possible.
On Khalid’s debut, American Teen, he captures those experiences with vocals so earnest and soulful that you not only hear his stories, but also identify with them. In the last year, fans have flocked to Khalid for that authenticity. It’s wrapped in upbeat rhythms, the occasional trap drum, and pop melodies, infectiously good that he begs for sing-alongs. Khalid’s show at Rebel in Toronto earlier this week was just that; a sold-out room filled with kids dancing, screaming, and karaoke-ing their way through American Teen standouts like “Another Sad Love Song” and “8Teen”.
Performing upon stage set-up that reflected Khalid’s America (visuals of suburbs, flag colours, and more flashed across the giant screens), the hour-long show was shared with a polished finesse, Khalid easily weaving in and out of songs. Even when he ripped his pants, quickly leaving the stage to swap the checkered look for sweatpants, he laughed about the mishap when he returned moments later, and returned to the music just as swiftly. While executing a high-energy, vocally-stunning performance, it would’ve been even more enjoyable to more of that interactivity. Screams and sing-alongs for songs like breakout “Location” and “Young Dumb & Broke” often drowned Khalid out, but fans making the songs so passionately their own speaks to where Khalid is going next. From where we stand, we’re seeing a lot of stars.