It’s sizzling hot in downtown Denver as July’s summer sunshine blankets the city in its oppressive heat. Inside the Pepsi Center, Khalid fans have found a cool oasis, retreating from the heat with breezy, made-for-summer tunes paired with Khalid’s signature brand of chill. The 21-year-old has embarked on his first arena tour titled after his sophomore album release and the show feels just as “free spirited” as its name suggests.
After a brief intermission to change the set design, it was time for Khalid’s arrival. The background music faded to silence. The lights went dim. The crowd cheered uproariously. And suddenly, the previously hidden floor-to-ceiling video display lit up as Khalid’s voice boomed across the arena, singing a relaxed chorus of ‘Free Spirit’ over simple piano pads. It was a soft and understated start to the show, which set the tone for the friends-only energy that Khalid tends to extend to his fans on the regular. It didn’t take long, though, for the pace to pick up, as the band launched into upbeat hit ‘8Teen.’ The explosive neon colors splashed across the video display and dancers bounded to the stage. The arena transformed into what felt like the hottest summer dance party with an exclusive guest list of over 15,000 of your closest friends.
Khalid arrived to the party in his usual style: cool and casual. He sported khakis, a t-shirt and, most appropriately, a Red Rocks hat (which he made mention of from the stage, with thunderous appreciation from the audience). He continued to seamlessly breeze through top songs from his latest album like ‘21,’ ‘Hundred,’ ‘My Bad,’ and ‘Bad Luck’ as fans jumped and waved, fully immersed in the moment with the artist. The dancers weaved in and out of song moments with ease, somehow managing to make their presence feel organic and not overly-produced or cheesy, which is a very difficult line to walk. Khalid, who himself proclaims that he is not a dancer, would sometimes turn to his crew and join in with a small nod to a popular dance move here and there. The crowd responded in utter delight at any hint of dancing and, personally, I loved watching him reveling in the moment.
Khalid continued his set with another compilation of slower ballads, giving the audience a lingering taste of his impressive vocal ability. The ballads were accompanied by a beautiful change in set design, as translucent curtains wrapped around the center stage. It seemed as though, for a moment in time, the audience got a sneak peek inside the artist’s private world, as he crouched on a stool, crooning behind the curtain, with dancing blue waters illuminating the screens behind him. It was my favorite set design from the night.
Khalid neared the end of the night with another string of fan favorites including ‘Talk’ and ‘Young, Dumb & Broke,’ during which he brought up a group of fans to join him in dancing on stage. This was, as expected, one of the most anthemic moments of the night, as self-proclaimed young, dumb, and broke high school kids jumped, waved and shouted along to the chorus. He continued with nods to several notable collabs like ‘East Side,’ ‘Love Lies’ and ‘OTW,’ and ended the night with ‘See You On Saturday,’ waving and making heart signs to the crowd as he sang his final phrases for an appropriately casual exit to his own party.
Get your tickets to the Free Spirit World Tour at khalidofficial.com
Cover Photo Credit: Grace Pickering