Khalid’s rise to fame has been undeniably impressive. Within a year of releasing his first single “Location” in 2016, his debut album American Teen entered the Billboard 200 in the top 10 and he received five Grammy nominations.
After collaborating with the likes of Billie Eilish, Logic and Marshmello, Khalid released his second full-length, Free Spirit, in April and announced a 32-date arena tour of the same name. On Tuesday, Khalid brought his stripped-down R&B flair to Los Angeles’ Staples Center for the first of two shows, sharing some wisdom along the way.
Below, find the eight best moments from the concert.
Finding His “Free Spirit”
Khalid kicked off the show with some inspiration, playing a recording encouraging audience members that “Free spirit is a dream you can accomplish.” As ethereal music flooded the arena, he walked out to thunderous applause and began the song after which the tour was named.
Bringing the Background Dancers
As soon as Khalid transitioned into the second song of the night, “8TEEN,” six background dancers joined him onstage, all decked out in his merch. They became consistent throughout the performance, bringing great energy and even getting Khalid — who came off a little shy — to bust a move a few times.
“The One That Changed My Life Forever”
Khalid took a break after “Hundred” to address the crowd, reminiscing about his journey to get here: “Honestly, I think my first LA show was at The Roxy two years ago,” he said of transitioning from the 500-capacity Sunset Strip venue to the tens of thousands of fans in front of him at Staples. “It’s been insane.” A more serious mood swept over the audience as he took a seat on a stool to sing “Saved,” saying, “I have to sing this song every tour because it’s the one that changed my life forever.” Sitting down, his vocals became even more smooth and controlled, reminding fans of his immense talent.
Send Me Your Location
After an energetic performance of fan favorite “Better” against stunning visuals of fireworks, Khalid asked the crowd, “Who went to the American Teen Tour?” Met by screams of affirmation, he cheekily responded with “So you guys are familiar with this song. This one’s for you,” and launched into the song that started it all, “Location.” During the track, Khalid remained seated, instead giving his background dancers the spotlight as each performed impressive solos.
A Piece of Home
At about the halfway mark, Khalid took a break from the stage to show the audience a several-minute compilation of him and his friends recording Free Spirit and adventuring on tour. The whole thing looked a bit like an Urban Outfitters ad and gave viewers some insight into the mind of Khalid. “Everyone’s telling you what to do,” Khalid said in a voice-over. “It takes a lot to tell yourself what to do.” At the end of the clip, footage was shown of Khalid getting the key to the city of El Paso, Texas, where he moved during high school and calls home.
The visuals throughout the show were overall captivating, featuring sunsets, shapes and city landscapes. However, in between “Heaven” and “Alive,” translucent curtains extended around the entire stage and an ocean setting was projected behind Khalid, making it look as though he was floating underwater. He seemed to flourish onstage even more once the curtains isolated him from the crowd, delivering beautiful performances of “Alive” and “Self.” The curtain finally disappeared midway through his current No. 1 hit on the Pop Songs and R&B Songs charts “Talk,” setting the stage for the end of the show, which included back-to-back bangers “Outta My Head,” “Young Dumb & Broke,” “Eastside” and “Love Lies.”
See You on Saturday Night?
There was one last break before Khalid closed out the concert, this time for “Salem’s Interlude,” an incredibly honest spoken-word piece from 2018’s Suncity. On top of soft instrumentals, a faraway-sounding voice ruminated on her fears and aspirations, ending with “I think it’s really nice to see where being a genuine person can get you.” This segued into “Saturday Nights,” with the appearance of the phrase “See you Saturday night?” on the big screen causing the crowd to go wild.
Anyway, Here’s Wonderwall
In an odd turn of events, Khalid cut “Saturday Nights” a bit short in order to cover Oasis’ 1995 anthem “Wonderwall.” The audience did not protest, singing along happily to the chorus before the arena faded to black — and with a “Thank you, Los Angeles,” Khalid was gone.
Khalid’s Staples Center set list
Another Sad Love Song
Outta My Head
Young Dumb & Broke
Saturday Night/Wonderwall (Oasis cover)