The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

Out Of His “Idle Town”: Review of Conan Gray’s “The Comfort Crowd Tour”

In honor of Conan Gray releasing his debut studio album “Kid Krow” on March 20, reporter Taila Lee takes us back to Gray’s “Sunset Season” era.
Amanda Wong
For his performance of “Idle Town,” Gray wore a pink cowboy hat covered in Sharpie messages from fans.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA— Sad, soulful, and sassy, YouTuber-turned-pop-star Conan Gray is a rising king of dream pop with his down-to-earth lyrics, comforting voice, and growing fanbase.

Gray took the world by storm with his debut EP “Sunset Season” at age 20, and his poignant performance at the Fox Theater last December proved he is destined for the stage. Maintaining his steady, silky voice and youthful charm with incessant hair flips and eye rolls, he exuded vibrant energy juxtaposed with enchanting but almost haunting musical compositions.

“Let’s get depressed!” he laughed after his opening performance of “The King,” earning cheers from the crowd.

“We already are,” a fan shouted back.

With an almost cult-like following, Gray’s charismatic sarcasm, social media presence, and openness about mental health make him the personification of Generation Z. He playfully explored the generational divide in his next performance of “Generation Why,” describing his “helpless, selfish” generation as the “kids that all want to die.”

A whispery chorus washed over the audience during his soothing odes to friendship “Comfort Crowd” and “The Other Side,” contrasted with his audacious, captivating performances of “Greek God” and “Lookalike.” Hope radiated from his lively performance of the self-love anthem “Grow,” which effortlessly transitioned into the slow, moving song “I Know A Place.”

Before surprising his audience with a then-unreleased song from his upcoming album “Kid Krow,” Gray opened up about struggles during his childhood.

“There was a point where I thought, ‘if life is always going to be like this, I don’t want to be here anymore,’” Gray said quietly, wiping tears from his face.

Illuminated by a spotlight in a haze of swirling fog, Gray strummed his guitar and sang “The Story” softly, people swaying silently— some even crying—to the mournful melody. His raw lyrics clearly resonated with his fans, and his refreshing authenticity made for the most emotional performance of the night.

Following the melancholic “The Story,” sapphire light flooded the stage as Gray alluringly sang “Idle Town,” a nostalgic melody detailing his life in his Texan hometown. He then demonstrated his exuberant stage presence with his spirited track “Checkmate.”

Exhilarated fans energetically shouted the lyrics to his surprise Jonas Brothers’ “Burnin’ Up” cover as well as “Maniac,” an edgy hit about a “psychopathic” ex toying with Gray’s feelings. Rosy lights glittered as Gray beautifully closed his set with “Crush Culture,” the dreamy anti-love song that helped launch his musical career.

Through the Oakland leg of “The Comfort Crowd Tour,” Gray proved his mastery at balancing dream and mainstream pop, innocence with insanity, and sorrow with sweetness. Gray’s spectacular relationship with his fans makes it clear that his music isn’t a trend: it’s paving the way for pop.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Taila Lee, Coeditor in Chief
Taila Lee is the second-year coeditor in chief and a third-year reporter for The Paw Print. Along with winning regional and national awards from Journalism Education Association (JEA), SNO, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Lee is a member of KQED's Youth Advisory Board for 2019-2020. She has been featured on KQED’s Bay Curious podcast and 2019 Youth Takeover, and she co-taught a student press law workshop at the National JEA Convention in Washington D.C. in November. Lee plans to major in media studies and minor in journalism at UC Berkeley to empower youth and inspire change with journalism.