hayley kiyoko is very, very gay: a concert review

 
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By the time show opener Naaz steps off the stage around eight thirty, the audience is buzzing with excitement. The crowded pit is made up mainly of young female fans eagerly discussing the opening act.

“Is she gay?” one fan asks.
“At this show?” her friend replies. “Almost definitely.”

It’s February 6th at O2 Forum Kentish Town in London, and the headliner is Hayley Kiyoko. Known as “Lesbian Jesus” to her devoted fanbase, and creator of Twitter sensation #20gayteen, Kiyoko maintains a loud vocal queerness in everything she does. If she’s invited someone to tour with her, it’s safe to assume that they are either a member of the LGBTQ+ community or a close ally.

After the third song in her set, a fan lovingly throws a bra on to the stage. Kiyoko holds it up and asks the crowd, “So, we’re not wasting any time, then?”

As demonstrated by her playful attitude on stage, Kiyoko has fostered a tight-knit relationship with adoring fans who relate to her vulnerability and the deeply personal lyrics in many of her songs. From coming to terms with her sexuality to romantic entanglements with straight and/or unavailable women, Kiyoko is consistently vocal about her experiences navigating love, sex, and relationships.

The audience sings along enthusiastically to every synth-pop song she plays from her most recent release, 2018’s Expectations. Singles like “Girls Like Girls,” “Curious,” and “Gravel to Tempo” garner the most excitement, but deeper tracks like “Mercy / Gatekeeper” have fans singing along too. Only the diehard fans could score tickets to this sold out show.

Beloved on social media and charmingly candid in interviews, there’s been a lot of internet hype surrounding Kiyoko, who goes to great lengths to connect with her fans. These interactions helped grow her fanbase immensely, and she has catapulted to fame in just a few short years.

Tonight’s performance, however, feels deeper than simply Kiyoko’s physical presence. On faster songs, she brings two expert backup dancers to the stage who perform elaborate routines to go along with the heavy beats of her music. On slower songs, she pulls out an electric guitar, and in one memorable moment, she even plays drums on a bra-adorned drum set. It’s clear that she takes her showmanship seriously, and has made an effort to deliver a multi-faceted performance.

This concert was Kiyoko’s second headlining show in the United Kingdom in under six months. She previously visited in October, but quickly returned due to high demand, this time with two sold-out performances in a much larger venue. If the audience’s reactions to this show are any indication, we’ll likely see Kiyoko again soon in a show that’s bigger, brighter, and gayer than ever.