The entire Monday evening at The Factory in Chesterfield felt like being enveloped in one huge group hug and singalong. Pop’s latest sensation, 23-year-old Conan Gray, breezed through the St. Louis region on this crisp autumn night to the delight of a nearly sold-out crowd of mostly late teen/early 20-something women with a few young men and parents scattered around.
London-based and self-described anti-pop rising star Baby Queen (aka Arabella Latham) opened the October 3 night at 7:30 p.m. with a 35-minute set of catchy yet introspective songs during her first night on Gray’s Superache tour. Even though her ear monitors glitched out early on, Latham handled the gaffe like a pro and powered through. Bounding and bouncing from edge to edge of the stage, Latham made sure to involve the engaged fans as much as possible. Latham talked inspirationally during moments of her set including one point when she shared “people care a lot about what others think but people are mostly self-centered and not paying attention” as she launched into “Nobody Really Cares.” A fan of Gray’s herself, she pumped the crowd into a new level of excitement about his upcoming appearance after her final song “Want Me.”
Between sets, the waiting crowd, many of who arrived several hours before the doors opened, sang along loudly to the piped-in hits such as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Marina’s “Bubblegum Bitch.”
At 8:30 p.m., deafening screams resounded as soon as the lights dimmed for Conan Gray. The quickly-rising star is on tour to support his sophomore album Superache which was released to critical acclaim this past June and debuted within the top 10 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and more.
Gray stepped out from behind a giant white curtain emblazoned with a giant heart onto a raised platform. With his wavy, dark mane and sun-kissed alabaster skin and dressed in all-white pants adorned with lace flowers along the outside seams, a see-through lacy vest, lacy fingerless gloves, and platform boots, Gray appeared to have just arrived from a fashion show. Fans swooned as he kicked off the 90-minute set with “Disaster” from his new album.
Gray beamed at every turn. As he performed “Telepath,’ also from Superache, the singer strode down the center steps to the front of the stage where a fan immediately tossed flowers to him that landed at his feet (a good throw as there were easily six feet between the stage and the fans).
He waved and smiled and he commented on signs fans held up highly (at least fans who weren’t recording every single second of the show). He pranced and swayed and flipped his hair to the delight of all. And, most importantly, he sang his sweet, dreamy, melodious songs full of reflections and observations and the angst of a young heart that pierces deeply and never quite heals. He did say he was there to sing happy and sad songs.
Not quite halfway through he asked, “Who’s here with a friend? Please give them a hug … or a kiss.”
He then continued, “If you’re here alone I’ll be your friend tonight. I’m pretty normal. Just a little mentally ill. But I think we all are. This song’s about best friends.” As his backing band launched into “Best Friends.”
He later performed his international platinum hits “Heather” and “Maniac” back to back and finished with the poignant “Memories.”
Find more photos here: https://bit.ly/ConanGray22cz
PS — If you haven’t been to a concert at The Factory yet, put it on your radar.
In my work life, I help nonprofits and small businesses with media and public relations. In my what I love to do life, you can typically find me photographing either wild horses or concerts.