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Heather could never: Conan Gray live at the Moore

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Photo by Izabel Diaz
Photo by Izabel Diaz

Fans lined up around the block on Saturday, April 9, as they waited for the doors of the historic Moore Theatre to open. It was the final night of indie pop singer Conan Gray's Seattle show before continuing on to Portland on his North American tour.

A sea of oversized blazers, ripped tights, and of course, Doc Martins swayed in anticipation as the door finally opened and dedicated fans were ushered through the grand entrance of the theater. Gray's fan base, which includes a high volume of Queer Gen Z girls and Nonbinary people, was giddy when ushers and volunteers distributed goody bags of keepsakes.

Minds Bülow-n
Fans who had been taking advantage of the glow of purple concert lights and the track of mid-2000s punk-pop quickly found their seats as soon as band members entered the stage for the opening act: Canadian/German pop singer Bülow.

The crowd erupted when she glided onto the stage in a flowing white fairy dress plucked right out of our collective cottage-core fantasies. With angst and a bit of twang, she performed each of her songs after giving the audience a bit of context . Bülow sang about relatable young adult experiences: parties, losing a guy to Jennifer, and unrequited love for a friend's dad. As she sat down for the the latter ballad, her band signaled to the audience to sway their phone lights back and forth, mimicking the lighters of old. One by one, Gen Z kids whipped out their prestigious iPhones and lit the room brighter than the house lights could.

Bülow ended her set with a highly anticipated TikTok bop that had the crowd on their feet and ready for the rest of the show.

Photo by Izabel Diaz  

The show begins
Lights came up on Conan Gray's band, all femme-presenting people, rocking out to the interlude of his 2020 hit "Wish You Sober." The crowd grew antsy as Gray's voice echoed on prerecorded background tracks. Finally, with a stroke of a bass and the beat of a drum, the lights flashed to reveal Gray in all his ethereal glory, standing atop a staircase-like structure framing the stage.

Fans greeted him with shrieks that could wake the dead, and Gray flashed a cheeky smile before sassily swaying his hips to the beat. He wore flared black pants and a flowy, white button-down shirt, giving nods to gender-fluid pop stars of the '80s, like Michael Jackson and David Bowie.

He hyped the crowd with one of his most recent songs, "Telepath," then got into some upbeat tracks from his album, Kid Krow. The crowd sang along to "Comfort Crowd," a song he explained was about friendship, and "Fight or Flight," an angsty ode to an unhealthy relationship.

In a brief interlude, a recording played "Online Love," while Gray prepared for an energy shift, situating himself in a set made to replicate his bedroom. Atop the bed, he sang his latest release, "Astronomy," while beautiful visuals depicted the night sky above his head.

"Fun fact, actually, really sad fact," Gray said while still seated on the bed, "they make me sleep here every night!" The audience erupted in laughter. The little quips and references to internet jokes and memes highlighted Gray's charm and roots as a product of the internet age.

An internet sensation
Conan Gray started his YouTube channel at the age of 13, originally as a way to show off his interests in art and photography. He eventually switched over to the now-extinct platform Vine, where he became famous for his irreverent humor and song covers.

On YouTube, Gray became known as a vlogger, showcasing everything from his everyday school routines to homemade music videos for his original songs. In 2018, a year after he graduated high school, Gray signed a deal with Republic Records and released his debut EP, Sunset Season.

Gray rose to prominence just in time for the pandemic to hit. In 2020 he released his first official album, Kid Krow, which debuted at number 5 on the US Billboard 200, making him the biggest new US artist of 2020. Two of his songs, "Maniac" and "Heather," became trending sounds on TikTok, earning him global recognition.

Gray gives fans Moore
Most of the songs he chose to perform at the Moore were from his debut album, although he did sprinkle in some newer releases, which have yet to be put into an album, including, "Jigsaw," "People Watching," and "Overdrive."

The performances were full of showmanship, and Gray's personality came out to play when he showed off silly dance moves and sassy hair flips. Special effects added an extra element to his fast-paced songs, punctuating them with flashing strobe lights.

He took a break toward the end of his set to introduce the audience to his band and show off a superfan who had attended the last ten of his concerts. He chuckled as he "annoyed" his bandmembers, gushing about their talent to a crowd cheering supportively.

Shortly after, the energy dipped, but only for a moment, when he announced he would only be performing one more song. Fans looked around incredulously, trying to determine which of his most popular hits, "Heather" and "Maniac," he would choose.

The answer, as it turned out, was "Maniac." Gray joyfully held the microphone out to the audience to sing along with him as he hopped around the stage with an enthusiasm only mirrored by the Energizer rabbit. An ear-splitting standing ovation rang out as he ran off stage giddily waving goodbye.

Despite his "very real" promise that "Maniac" would be the last song, the crowd began chants of "Heather," hoping to encourage him to return to the stage once more. To hardly anyone's surprise, Gray hopped back on stage within minutes.

Fans cheered and gawked at his quick outfit change into a plaid, pleated skirt and sweater vest, reminiscent of a Catholic schoolgirl. With somehow even more energy, Gray serenaded the crowd with his angsty anti-love song to Heather, the object of his lover's affection. With the final stroke of the bass, the room went dark, and Gray disappeared back into the shadows.

Fans exited their seats and headed for the door, a chaotic and happy swarm of friends sharing with those around them just how special and life-changing the night had been. Gray's career may have started during the early days of the pandemic, but if his first-ever tour is any indication, he's headed straight for the stars. It's astronomy.