Hayley Kiyoko’s Expectations Tour captivates sold out crowd at The Observatory

In Arts & Entertainment, Lifestyle, Music
Hayley Kiyoko on stage singing and reaching toward the audience
(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

Hayley Kiyoko electrified The Observatory in Santa Ana on Wednesday night as she returned with her dance moves and dream pop to the sold-out crowd for her Expectations Tour. Fresh off her appearances at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Kiyoko, known by fans as Lesbian Jesus, brought female empowerment, gay pride and high energy to the crowd.

Her debut album, “Expectations,” entered the Billboard Hot 200 at No. 12, her first solo entry on the chart according to Billboard. With the singles “Sleepover,” “Feelings” and “Curious,” she not only succeeded at making good pop, but inclusive pop.

The Australian-based pop singer-songwriter Jess Kent kicked off the night with some of her originals and covers, including “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine and “Location” by Khalid. Her soft voice flowed as she danced and played electric guitar, accompanied by her drummer. Kent caught the audience’s attention in a room anxiously awaiting Lesbian Jesus to take the stage. Her set lasted less than an hour and perfectly set the mood for what was to come.

After previously performing to sold-out crowds in the Constellation Room of The Observatory, Kiyoko spun and captivated the crowd in the larger, yet still intimate space. Her performance was a mix of old and new songs, bringing the crowd into the world she has cultivated with her music.

“I remember playing that room twice and thinking ‘Oh my god this is the biggest room I’ve ever played, it’s sold out, and it’s amazing.’ But you guys f—ing sold this out,” Kiyoko told the crowd during her concert.

When the house lights went out, the stage was illuminated by five panels projecting clips from Kiyoko’s music videos and constellations. Opening with the emotional monologue from “Mercy / Gatekeeper” she jumped on stage and launched into “Under the Blue / Take Me In.”

“When I was growing up, I would have my friends come over and we would choreograph ‘NSYNC, and I would be bossing everyone around. But my dream was to be performing on stage and having all these hot girls screaming at me,” Kiyoko said during the concert. “And my dream has come true.”

She playfully interacted with the crowd, holding their attention as she danced and strutted around the stage. Taking time in between songs to speak about the importance of self-love, escapism and having feelings played with, Kiyoko entertained from start to finish.

She even managed to dodge two bras that were thrown on stage, much to the audience’s disappointment.

Even without backup dancers, she demonstrated her skills as an entertainer by jumping on the drums during multiple songs, including “Curious” and “Molecules.”

The crowd sang along, responding to every energetic move and clinging to every lyric Kiyoko sang.

After closing with “Let it Be” and a portion of “Mercy” she left the stage, but the crowd chanted and asked for more. Kiyoko came back for an encore and performed “Gravel to Tempo,” closing out the night with a nostalgic, yet empowering message for her fans as she sang, “I’ll do this my way, don’t matter if I break, I gotta be on my own.”

Aside from her skills as a performer, Kiyoko’s candor about sexuality and identity are refreshing to the heteronormative pop industry.

As the concert progressed, she cemented herself as a force to be reckoned with. She offers impeccable vocals and lyrics tackling sexuality, loneliness and heartbreak.

Kiyoko doesn’t need a large stage production to be a good pop artist. She fills the room with her presence and commands the stage with strong vocals and hip-hop dance moves.

She is a bright spot in an industry that often suffers from lackluster performances and recycled ideas. Her dream pop captivates listeners and her ability to maintain energy throughout a live performance prove that 2018 is truly #20GAYTEEN.

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