Livestreams during the COVID-19 pandemic generally go one of two ways. Artists can scale back the production, offering fans uniquely intimate experiences, or they can dream up elaborate costumes and sets to recreate the feel of a full-on stage show. Performing Friday (Oct. 9) as part of Billboard’s Live at-Home concert series, Australian singer, actor, and dancer Keiynan Lonsdale luckily opted for the latter.
Flanked by backup dancers and musicians, with a video screen flashing in the background, Lonsdale served up thrilling renditions of three songs from his critically acclaimed 2020 debut album, Rainbow Boy. The LP deals with his experiences as a queer Black man (he doesn’t put a label on his sexuality), and themes of rising above hatred and finding joy in life ran throughout Thursday’s powerful performance.
Lonsdale kicked off the performance with “Gay Street Fighter,” a song about feeling frustrated by homophobia and standing up to reclaim your dignity. He and his dancers played with this concept by rocking black paramilitary-style outfits. In addition to keeping up with the choreography, Lonsdale flipped easily between brash rapping and smooth Prince-style singing.