Photo by Maddie Doolittle
March 22nd marked the strong start of The Kid LAROI’s “Bleed For You” tour, held at the Upstate Medical University Arena at The OnCenter War Memorial.
The Syracuse community got special glimpse at Charlton Howard (professionally known as The Kid LAROI) with a short afternoon appearance on Waverly Avenue. “I honestly wasn’t expecting this many people to show up”, the Australian performer shouted as he stood elevated above a sea of students and phone cameras. He then proceeded to throw free merchandise and concert tickets into the crowd, riding to his car on the shoulders of his security team.
The anticipation for The Kid LAROI’s performance continued with two preceding acts. The first was a cover of the musician’s “Love Again” performed by aspiring artist Cooarti, the winner of a contest involving video-submissions designed specifically for the tour. Jeremy Zucker then followed as the official opening act, celebrating his first time playing in an arena with fan favorites “comethru” and “supercuts”.
Photo by Grace Denton
The moment The Kid Laroi’s silhouette appeared behind a cloudy white background, the audience roared as he began with newly released single “I Can’t Go Back to The Way It Was”. The stage set-up matched the artist’s emo-rap edge, with a faint tree-branch backdrop and 3 enormous wolves contained in a cage used as an elevated surface. While the production relied heavily on colored and strobe lights, the performance’s high energy was drawn from the enthusiastic crowd.
Several songs on the 21-part setlist involved acapella vocals carried by the loyal audience. After introducing his band, the artist asked his drummer if he could borrow the drumset for a game of “Guess the song”, playing the beginning of “SO DONE”. The audience certainly won the game, booming the lyrics to the song off of his most recent album “F*CK LOVE 3+: OVER YOU”.
He also paid tribute to late mentor Juice WRLD, who helped develop The Kid LAROI’s unique sound and international recognition. Before performing their duet “Go”, he led his audience in an emotional chant of the words “Long Live Juice.”
It was clear that The Kid LAROI was not just performing for his audience, but with his audience. After the crowd began chanting his (stage) name, the artist looked out at the arena with a surprised, honored expression. He then handed the microphone to a teenage girl in the front of the pit, asking her the name of the first person to break her heart. The Kid LAROI joined in the audience’s passionate response, as thousands saluted the fan’s ex with middle fingers raised high in the air.
The Kid LAROI alternated between his rap and hip-hop style and his pop hits, the latter being the most engaging for the audience. The crowd jumped along with the singer during his performance of “Stay” — the catchy-pop collaboration with Justin Bieber that earned number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven non-consecutive weeks— as well as that of hits “Love Again” and “Thousand Miles”.
Unreleased songs were also included in the setlist, one titled “Where Does Your Spirit Go”. For this emotionally-intense piano ballad, The Kid LAROI requested the audience’s phones to be put away to “live in the moment.”
To close the show, The Kid LAROI performed an encore of “WITHOUT YOU”: another top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 remixed with Miley Cyrus. However, the concert ended not with The Kid LAROI’s vocals, but instead with a chorus sung solely by the flashlight-filled audience. In his final moments on stage, the musician expressed his gratitude to his devoted audience: “I’ve never been more nervous than for this show, so thank you for being so f*cking welcoming.”
“It was great to see so many people genuinely excited to be there with an artist who appreciated it, that’s how more concerts should be.”Grace Denton, WJPZ General Manager
Article by Molly Lindstrom