Review: Hayley Kiyoko dances her way to stardom

Singer Hayley Kiyoko forms a unique connection with her audience


Kiyoko performs onstage at The Beacham

Amelia Foster, A&E Editor

The line in front of The Beacham in Orlando stretched three blocks, with people from all over Florida queue-ing to be as close to the stage as possible, waiting for the chance to be next to pop-singer Hayley Kiyoko. The concert was Saturday, May 12, and was the first of Kiyoko’s stops in Florida on her Expectations tour.

The Beacham was a rather small venue, holding 1250 people, butI couldn’t move an inch without bumping into someone. The difference between this concert and others I had gone to was the crowd; everyone seemed ecstatic, with gay pride flags around the shoulders of at least 10 people and kissing couples in every corner. Kiyoko’s debut album, Expectations, is different than other pop albums in that it is solely about her relationship with girls, and the struggles that come with being a lesbian.

After an hour of waiting, the opening act walked onto the stage. Allie X’s act consisted of bubblegum pop, accented by her flair for the dramatic. Although being relatively unknown, she got the audience dancing with songs such as “Casanova” and “Catch.” Throughout her songs, Allie X constantly mentioned the joy she receives from opening for Kiyoko, only sparking the crowd’s excitement for the main act.

Before Kiyoko took the stage, a montage of videos played. All clips of her music videos, starring and directed by Kiyoko herself, with the backdrop of a light beat. Throughout the video, the crowd chanted “Hayley! Hayley,” creating electricity in the room.

Kiyoko entered the stage with her song “Under the blue/Take me in,” a song that starts out soft but quickly becomes more upbeat as it reaches the chorus. She had the entire room singing along throughout the concert, moments of silence filled with desperate screams of “I love you.”

A high point of the concert was during her performance of “Girls like girls,” the first song she released about liking girls. Before the concert, hearts were passed out with the intention to hold them up during her performance of “Girls like girls.” At the end of the song, Kiyoko stood on stage for nearly three minutes, unable to speak because of tears.

What I love about Hayley Kiyoko concerts, and what I love about her in general, is that she will dance spontaneously to any song. While singing, she’d back away from the mic stand and jam out, to dancing that didn’t seem choreographed at all. You can tell how free she feels on stage, and that feeling is infectious to the audience.

Before her second to last song, “This side of paradise,” Kiyoko stopped the concert and gave a little speech. This was the only moment where there was complete silence, with everyone in the room holding their breath to hear each word she said. Kiyoko explained that the song was about a fantasy world she made up in middle school before she was comfortable with her sexuality. She said that she went there when she wanted to feel free to like girls, and she talked about how far she has come with her now being dubbed the “Lesbian Jesus” by her fans. Her speech was raw, moving people around me to tears.

She finished the night with “Gravel to Tempo,” from her EP Citrine. She gave a euphoric show, dancing and jumping around on stage before the song ended. If the crowd was hard to navigate before the concert began, it was nothing compared to when it ended. Over 1200 people fled the tiny club at once, with a few, including me, hanging around to check out the merch table.

Kiyoko’s Expectations tour certainly succeeded my expectations for such a recent artist. Her ability to enchant the crowd led for a night filled to the brim with energy and love. Kiyoko’s fans are intensely devoted to her, as she is one of the few artists who are so open and proud about their sexuality. With her talent, style, and dedicated fan base, Kiyoko made a crowd of 1200 feel like a crowd of 10,000. She clearly has a bright future.