Rising star The Kid Laroi brought an intense show to the Alliant Energy Center this past Friday. Check out our photo gallery and recap below!
Jeremy Zucker has plenty of fans who are here just for him. Someone in the second or third row holds up a sign that says, Drove 15 hours to Knox and 13 hours here...please play end.
If you went to Chelsea Cutler, Alec Benjamin or Surfaces in the past couple of years, then you probably already have Jeremy on your playlists. He sits into that romantic, melancholy kind of pop music that you play with your windows down as the sun sets. It's lyrics like, "Too old for my hometown/Went to bed at noon/Couldn't put my phone down" in "comethru" that prompt a younger, gen-z audience for the 27-year-old. Most of his biggest hits prompt for simple production, acoustic guitar and maybe a sprinkle of piano. He keeps a small band on stage, just opting for another guitarist and drummer who stay mostly in the background.
I find that mellower songwriters always have to work a little extra to bring energy to a show. After all, Zucker knows he's an opener, getting the crowd primed for The Kid Laroi's set. So even though he can't move around the stage much while playing guitar and singing, it's a combination of both his earnest songwriting and the crowd reaction to his hits that keeps things interesting while singing, "Cause all the kids a depressed..."
The Kid Laroi
Despite his radio singles, most of The Kid Laroi's discography is a rap/pop fusion. His last album, F*CK LOVE, took on a sound closer to Post Malone and Juice WRLD despite having singles like "Stay" and "Without You." Every song is explicit, there's hip hop-esque skits and plenty of features from Polo G to Justin Bieber to MGK.
Before his set, there's a thin, sheet-like curtain in front of the stage. The house lights go down and suddenly the stage lights come on, and The Kid Laroi and his band--a guitarist, drummer and a DJ--are backlit behind the curtain as "I Can't Go Back To The Way It Was," the intro track to his upcoming album, begins. It's clear we're in for a moody night as he sets the tone with lyrics about his difficult upbringing, the death of friends (like Juice WRLD) and facing forward instead of living in the past. As the song finishes, the curtain falls.
The stage is dressed with a large fence and blow-up rottweilers behind it. The lighting is dark and sulky and intense. It somewhat mimics the aesthetics of his tour poster:
The next song shifts the energy completely. "Let Her Go" is a 2019 deep cut for The Kid Laroi fans that leans heavily into his rap influences. It's clear the the front row knows it, although I question if some of the younger kids in the 200 section know all of the singles. He comes down from the podium in back and approaches the stage with instant intensity. I watch him take a moment during an instrumental moment to take a look around the room and smile.
It's not a sold out crowd--with other concerts happening that same night in Madison and a college town left partially empty on Easter weekend, there's still plenty of wiggle room towards the back of the pit. Many younger fans have opted for seats instead. It's because the 19-year-old singer has his foot in both rap and pop that brings the two different crowds together. His more dedicated fans are going to be the happiest tonight with the first ten songs keeping that bitier aggressive sound. When "Diva" starts, he comes right up to the edge of the stage and tells the crowd to open up a mosh pit.
As he rolls through F*CK LOVE, we eventually get to "Stay," which the whole crowd knows and sings along to. I'm surprised he doesn't save it for his encore, but it's immediately followed up with his newest songs, "I Guess It's Love" and "Love Again." Judging on his latest run of singles, the new album will be more pop-centric, which is exciting for me since I think his strength lie in songs like "Love Again."
In the encore, he finishes up with "WITHOUT YOU" and finally "Paris to Tokyo," a song he did with Fivio Foreign with a Far East Movement sample. While it wouldn't have been my gut reaction encore track, it's the best way to end the concert with high energy. As he exits the stage, "Robbery" by Juice WRLD plays as a bittersweet finale.