Troye Sivan Mesmerizes Audience, Offers Hope
Australian singer-songwriter and electro-pop artist Troye Sivan took his audience on an emotional journey during his Nov. 17 performance at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena. The penultimate stop on his “Suburbia” world tour, Sivan’s show appealed to both the sadness and hope audience members felt in the wake of the recent election.
The 21-year-old’s successful music career sprang from the impressive fanbase he garnered as a YouTube sensation. Much like the demographic groups that fueled his online rise, the audience at the Fairfax, Va. show largely comprised millennials and young teens accompanied by their parents.
Sivan opened the show with “WILD,” his second EP’s eponymous track and the first song on his 2015 album “Blue Neighbourhood.” The enthusiastic crowd sang along to every word, setting the tone for an energetic evening. Sivan’s sensual dance moves, his use of the entire stage and the thematic, colorful lights provided nearly as much entertainment as the song itself.
Quirky, endearing and confident, Sivan’s personality shone through in his delivery of the first few songs, including “BITE,” “COOL” and “TOO GOOD.” He engaged with his fans throughout, asking them to sing choruses that they happily belted out.
The relationship Sivan has with his following is a special one, and it played out in the show. YouTubers often feel a close connection with their viewers, and because many members of the audience had been watching his vlog-style videos since he was in his early teen years, there was a dynamic of friendship between performer and audience.
In his 2013 video “Coming Out” on YouTube, Sivan revealed that he is gay, an identity with which fans have strongly resonated, showing support across social media platforms. Sivan’s concerts have thus always been somewhat of safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ community who enjoy his music. At the “Suburbia” show, the atmosphere was one of solidarity, with the arena bespeckled with rainbow flags.
While introducing his song “HEAVEN,” Sivan accepted two pride flags from audience members and fashioned them into a cape for himself, prompting a roar of approval from the audience. Sivan took time to describe happenings at recent concerts, including two women getting engaged and a teenager coming out. Sivan spoke about hope in the LGBTQ community following the win of President-elect Donald Trump.
“We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I have complete hope and complete faith in the people like you guys who come here and just inspire me, show me so much love,” Sivan said.
“HEAVEN,” written about Sivan’s experience growing up gay in a religious household, was one of the night’s emotional high points. With the arena illuminated by hundreds of swaying cell phones, he sang, “Feeling like my heart’s mistaken / So if I’m losing a piece of me, maybe I don’t want heaven.”
The energy never faltered as Sivan continued with “for him.” and “EASE.” When he sang his first single from 2014, “Happy Little Pill,” which he credited for launching his music career, it was evident that he was having fun while performing. The last leg of the show included “SUBURBIA” and “THE QUIET,” followed by a reggae rendition of “FOOLS.”
“BLUE,” “DKLA” and “TALK ME DOWN” wound down the show, but Sivan was soon called back for an encore. His performance of “YOUTH,” which has seen mainstream success at No. 23 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was Sivan’s strongest of the night and had the whole arena on its feet dancing.
Sivan delivered not only a performance with his “Suburbia” tour but also a message about unity in the face of hatred. “We’re going to kick a-- for the next four years and forever,” Sivan said. He has reinforced this message through the content of his music and his videos, but nothing quite beats the in-person experience. Fans left the stadium that night satisfied, in a trail of glitter and rainbow flags.