March 2018: K. Flay and Yungblud conquer the rare feat of making two performances feel like one – they were always meant to tour together.
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There is nothing better than when the support and headlining act on a tour make the whole night feel like one single performance. When they manage to keep everyone on the same wavelength, bring the right amount of energy onto the stage, and their music just gels together and makes you feel like this joint tour was always meant to happen. This is the feeling you get after spending an evening with K.Flay and her support act for her North American tour, British rising superstar YUNGBLUD. Both acts passed by Philadelphia’s Union Transfer on March 18th, and brought an unparalleled amount of energy to every attendee’s Sunday night.
YUNGBLUD, the moniker of 19-year-old artist Dominic Harrison, is riding the wave of the release of his self-titled debut EP, released on January 19th via Interscope. His socially conscious songs make every sentence coming out of his mouth seem like an anthem – it takes seconds of seeing him onstage to realise he is the voice the younger generation has been yearning for. Opening with an unreleased song, “21st Century Liability,” Harrison managed to get people singing along to a song they’d never heard before by the end of the second chorus. Donned in all black except for his famous fluorescent pink socks, Harrison used every second he had on that stage to prove his potential as an artist and performer – you’re hypnotised by his overwhelming energy, which leads him to frequently jump, knock over the mic stand, and bounce around between both sides of the stage in what feels like no time.
“I Love You, Will You Marry Me,” the album’s lead single, came next – and Harrison brought out a white guitar, branded with pink tape. Despite his EP being barely two months old, the crowd knows the words and voraciously sings along. He’s a fantastic frontman on his own, but his interactions with his band – especially guitarist Adam Warrington – show people that he recognises the teamwork that is happening at that moment, cares for those sharing the stage with him, and wants people to pay attention to the other men onstage.
The dynamic between Harrison and Warrington is electric, with Harrison kissing him at one point and by the end of the set the both of them having somewhat of a guitar duel laying on the stage.
Heartfelt moments came on “Polygraph Eyes,” YUNGBLUD’s song addressing sexual assault, and “Casual Sabotage,” another unreleased song. Harrison’s soul is heard on these songs, especially by the end of “Polygraph Eyes,” when he finishes it a-cappella yelling “she can’t even talk” while looking up. “Casual Sabotage” is the only ballad-like song he plays, and despite Harrison not moving as much as usual onstage for it, the song grabs you for its purity and honesty. By the time he has left the stage, YUNGBLUD has done what every good opening act manages to do: get his song and message out to people, entice them, and make them feel ready and excited for the headlining act to come.
K.Flay steps onstage and the word star comes to mind. Opening the show with “Make Me Fade,” she sucks you into her world, and her music blossoms. Also dressed in all black, K.Flay uses her space on the stage wisely, getting right to the edge as much as she can to connect with fans, then moving further down and standing alongside her band. She dances freely, makes the stage her home – and if you think she sounds great on record, her live show takes everything to a whole other level.
“Giver,” off K.Flay’s latest album Every Where Is Some Where, comes after the opener, and the whole crowd joins K.Flay on the chorus, screaming
I’m learning to live
I’m trying to get better
I’m learning to give
But I don’t know if I’m a giver
Other highlights of the set are “Mean It,” a ballad K.Flay tackles solo and dedicates to her family, “It’s Strange,” her collaboration with Louis the Child which gets beautiful rainbow-coloured lights on the chorus, the romantic “The Cops,” and the dark ode to love “High Enough.”
Every time she’s leaning from the edge of the stage, getting as close to the crowd without falling, her eyes shine in joy, and the fans act in the same way. Though her songs tend to have a darker sound to them, K. Flay the performer is happy and all about the connection with the people who are spending their Sunday night with her. The crowd is diverse – all ages, equally balanced between genders, every type of person – the one thing they have in common is a love for the artist they’re seeing at that moment.
By the time the show was over, the room was still infected with and inspired by the high energy of the past two hours. Everyone comes to an unspoken conclusion: if every Sunday night came with a healthy dose of K.Flay and YUNGBLUD, Mondays wouldn’t seem all that bad.
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📸 © Nicole Almeida