Amid his closing concert at The Tabernacle, Troye Sivan asked the audience if it wanted him to do something special to mark the occasion. A chorus of requests ensued and “rap” won the vote. Sivan played coy at first, but when the drum beat started he broke into an explosive cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Monster.” Though the song may seem out of place in the electropop artist’s repertoire, Sivan’s rapping skills proved another testament to his talents not only as a singer, but a performer.
Though the Suburbia Tour was Sivan’s largest world tour to date, he is no stranger to the spotlight. He rose to fame through YouTube, where he shared candid videos about his life, collaborated with other popular YouTube stars such as Tyler Oakley and Zoella and built a loyal following of over four million fans. One of Sivan’s most popular videos is one where he comes out as gay, and that video has since been followed by his many public campaigns to help the LGBT community.
His previous Blue Neighborhood tour was no exception to his endeavors to support the LGBT. The Ally Coalition, a group created by the band Fun and designer Rachel Antonoff to raise awareness for LGBT equality through education and advocacy, helped spread its message of inclusion throughout Sivan’s tour with a national photo campaign and booth at each concert venue. And the concerts themselves were a safe space for the hundreds of fans that came out — pride flags flew high and Sivan took some time in the middle of the concert to speak to the audience about coming out. Sivan said that though his experiences with coming out were largely positive, he realizes the same is not true for most people. Wrapped in a pride flag thrown onstage by an audience member, he shared his hope for a more inclusive world in which people are free to be themselves.
But the night began with Dua Lipa, a self-described “dark pop” singer. Lipa, who also began her musical career on YouTube, exploded onto the stage, belting out hits like “Be The One” and “Blow Your Mind (Mwah).” Lipa has a uniquely deep and sultry voice,and her music really shines — an eclectic mix of pop, hip-hop and occasional rap. As Lipa danced across the stage in her baseball cap and thigh-high boots, the crowd swayed along with her. At one point in the middle of Lipa’s set, Sivan even popped onto stage to give her a hug, driving the crowd insane. Though Lipa wasn’t the headliner, she held the stage with the confidence of a seasoned artist and from the conversations I heard after the concert, she definitely won over the crowd.
When the first chords of Sivan’s “Wild” began to play, the cheering reached a new high. Sivan emerged from the shadows and ran along the stage, which featured four screens that showed stunning visuals throughout the performances, including shots of the sea, technicolor backdrops and of Sivan himself. Fans eagerly sang along with Sivan throughout the night, and the genuine connection between Sivan and the audience was tangible. Sivan stopped several times between songs to thank his fans for supporting him as he gets to do what he loves, and even reached out into the crowd to collect some of the many drawings and letters that his fans had brought to the concert for him.
It was surreal to see the person I had watched on my laptop screen for years singing in front of me. While his voice has shifted from the electric “Happy Little Pill” to the melancholy “Talk Me Down,” Troye remains at his core, the same charismatic character that drew so many people to his videos over the years. He is unapologetic in his identity, stating in an interview with Out Magazine, “[my sexuality] is not something that I’m ashamed of, and it’s not anything that anyone should have to be ashamed of.” Blue Neighborhood echoes that sentiment: it features a more mature voice, one that tackles love, loss and even some of Troye’s struggles with his faith, but it is, at its core, an album that celebrates the freedom to be who you really are.
Sivan’s success is a reminder that you don’t have to be born into fame to become wildly successful. Sometimes the first step just takes a little courage and a video camera.