Troye Sivan goes wild in London

Not many 20 year olds can say they have their life together, probably not even humble Troye Sivan will say it himself.

[First published on Kettle]

If you haven’t heard of Troye Sivan then you’re presented with a solution and a problem: the solution is to watch him catalogue his life on his YouTube channel, which has clocked nearly four million subscribers to date. The problem is that to do this and to catch up on everything else like his film appearances and music releases, you might have to set aside a few days.

But let me quickly recap. At the age of 15, Troye came out as gay to his YouTube audience. He’d been entertaining them with challenges and sketches as well as the odd cover song for years. He still lives in his family home in Perth, Australia, and he played young Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine at the age of 13. His film resume also includes starring as Spud in the eponymous South African film series which is also the place of his birth. But it’s his music ventures, two EPs and an upcoming album that brings us to a cramped sweaty music venue in central London on the only UK concert date on his first global world tour.

The queue snaked down the inside of Angel Centre shopping centre, the O2 Academy is tucked away in the corner next to the likes of Starbucks and Accessorize. It’s a small venue. A sad little disco ball hangs from the ceiling, the floors were sticky and it smelt like it was built under the lavatories, but it has its charms.

A brilliant mix of genders, backgrounds, ages and sexualities waited in line and the occasional passerby asked who we were waiting for. “Troye Sivan.” No one had heard of him, but what they didn’t know is that his fans had been waiting for this concert for a really long time. Like, a really long time. The gig had been long awaited after his previous two EP releases, the first released last year and the second this September. Not to mention a debut album comes out this December, only a mere three months after the Wild EP – a heartbeat in the music biz.

The audience packed the venue side to side and back to front and stood to attention eagerly trying to get glimpses of the stage which was lit up with blue neon lights outlining the shape of a house… a reference to upcoming album Blue Neighbourhood maybe?

Tkay Maidza took to the stage as the only support act to warm up the crowd with her funky tropical house music, which did the trick on a dreary November night. Also from Australia, Tkay features on Troye’s song ‘DKLA’. She brought with her a backing keyboardist who smiled and bopped along like that lone Eurovision backing dancer who doesn’t know what the hell is going on but is just happy to be there anyway.

She flitted along to the punchy electronic beats and added some extra vocals to a pre-recorded backing track while the audience got to practise their dance moves.

But suddenly a scream rose up from the crowd because someone spotted someone in the VIP section. Just like a hunter stalks its prey they were hooked on his every move. As soon as Tkay finished her set and dropped a single foot off stage the demand began:

“TROYE TROYE TROYE TROYE.”

The fans were poised and ready with their cameras, the lights dimmed and out he came with a small smile and nervous wave. He rolled straight into ‘Bite’ – the darkest and moodiest song on the latest EP.

Still characterised by his good boy charms, Troye scowled and stropped around the stage to get into the mood of the song. He was like a puppy practising its scary predator face, but he wasn’t fooling anyone. Even though he may need to polish his onstage performance, the vocals were on point.

The crowd needed no reminder to sing along, already screaming every syllable. Troye, dressed in an oversized jumper which covers most of his petite slender frame, still couldn’t quite believe anyone turned up. During the next song ‘Fools’ he thanked them for coming along, but what he should have realised is that they’d been waiting just as long as he has.

It was so surreal to see him in the flesh and not behind a screen. The experience was just as humbling for him as it was for us. He put his heart and soul into putting on the best possible performance for his fans because to him, that’s what’s most important.

Taking selfies with fans in the front row, casually making conversation in between songs, telling personal anecdotes… All this came intuitively to Troye because he has literally grown up with his fans. Since that first recorded video in his Perth family home as a young tween with chubby cheeks and baby blue eyes, he’s put his life online for everyone to see. As nervous as he was to play his music live, the crowd were his family and there was nothing but love for him.

The songs are a sentiment to young adult life and there is common ground for all his fans to connect with. Even though Troye has such a unique story, being the artsy kid on the block in Perth with a not-so-secret YouTube channel, his music offers refuge for anyone.

The lush production provides a soothing backdrop and the carefully-crafted lyrics mirror the qualms his listeners may have, plus they translate into a live performance really well. However, when compared to more radio-friendly artists like Taylor Swift or Sam Smith, the songs start to fall apart a bit.

“I can’t believe I’m playing in London right now. This is insane,” he declared. His eyes pleasantly drifted over the crowd and you could tell he felt lucky for the attention. The energy oozed off the stage as he began ‘DKLA’ and even though he must have felt more at ease when Tkay Maidza joined him on stage for a duet, he still flopped around like a muppet.

He ignited the crowd for the last time with the leading single from the eponymous EP Wild and treated them to an acoustic version of ‘Happy Little Pill’ from the first EP for the encore. All in all, the concert was a fantastic and rare treat for his fans and he left them all with the feeling of bigger and brighter things still to come.

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