SAN FRANCISCO — On his first-ever tour stop in the Bay Area, Conan Gray proved to have the whole performing thing down. The Texas YouTuber and musician bounced all over stage as he filled a sold-out Rickshaw Stop with feel-good bedroom pop on Wednesday.
A monologue detailing his rise as an artist cued Conan Gray and his band onstage. Following the intro, Gray opened with the ambient slow-burner “The Other Side.” Excited fans likely recognized the cut from Gray”s YouTube videos, which normally conclude with the tune.
Gray went on to perform a nine-song set that included all of his studio recordings so far, most of which have garnered millions of plays on Spotify. He played recent release “Crush Culture” next, with fans echoing the words back to him. The new cut, off Gray’s upcoming debut EP, Sunset Season, deliberated the struggles of modern dating. The chorus, “Just let me be sad and lonely ‘cause/ Crush culture makes me wanna spill my guts out,” seemed to especially resonate with the crowd, whose singing rose to a roar for those lines.
To introduce “Generation Why,” a catchy fan favorite that embraces growing up as a “millennium child,” Conan Gray said that he was inspired by how older people in his hometown often criticized the lifestyle of today’s youth.
As the set reached its end, Gray brought out a couple new songs, “Greek God” and “Lookalike.” He described the former as being about a past love he couldn’t forget. In just under an hour, Gray topped off his set with the dreamy “Idle Town,” a reflective ode to the singer-songwriter’s stomping grounds.
NorCal soul band Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue started the show with a blend of blues and pop. The trio opened with mellow tracks “Blue” and “Lullaby” as vocalist-guitarist Madi Sipes’ velvety voice commanded the crowd’s full attention. Sipes introduced “Unrequited” next, bonding with the audience.
“Blue Jean Baby” changed up the pace up with its touch of seductive funk.
“Do you guys like The Beatles?” Sipes asked, eliciting a unanimous cheer. Following that, Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue broke into a moody cover of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
The group also brought out a new song, “For Your Eyes Only.”
“I’m trying to live my dreams of being an ’80s synth player,” Sipes said by way of an introduction. True to her word, the new cut sounded straight from that decade. It featured recurring retro synths and a backing track that whispered “for your eyes only.”
Carrying out the bedroom mood until the very end, Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue closed with the steamy “Sex and Sadness.”
— Chloe Catajan