Jon Bellion brings The Human Condition to the stage

(By: Angela McLean)

It’s a rare occurrence that a majorly buzzed-about artist would play a 700-or-so capacity show in a major music hub just as they hit some major milestones in their career. That was the case with rapidly rising singer/rapper Jon Bellion, who made his grand return to Toronto on July 26 for an intimate show at The Hoxton.

Bellion has been on a roll since his last show in Toronto in June 2015; the highlight would undoubtedly have to be the release of his premier major-label album, ‘The Human Condition,’ which debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 last month. The majority of the shows on the current North American leg of The Human Condition Tour have sold out in record time, and this Hoxton show was no exception.

Within 45 minutes of the doors opening, hundreds of fans were already chanting “We want Jon!” and “Bel-li-on!” That early anticipation set the tone for an amazing night ahead.

 

Rapper Blaque Keyz, who has frequently collaborated with Bellion, kicked off the evening with a high-energy set that included tracks from his debut mixtape, ‘The Master Key Principles: A Featured Presentation.’ A special night in a special city meant new music, according to Blaque Keyz, and fans went wild. Then, in what may have been the most awesome set closer, and the best marketing move ever, Blaque Keyz gave his phone number out to the crowd. When messaged, the number – (908) 364-7862 – drives fans to a sign-up page that keeps them updated with new music releases and show information.

 

Next up, local favourite SonReal commanded the room like a true pro. Despite being from Vancouver, SonReal calls Toronto a second home. Fans welcomed him back by singing along to hits like “Oh Nilly,” “Everywhere We Go” and “Can I Get A Witness,” the hip-hop artist’s first song to hit one million views on YouTube. He showed his appreciation by throwing free shirts out into the crowd and asking them to join him one last time, with lighters up, in an encore performance.

 

After nearly three hours, the man of the night finally graced the 6 with his presence and it was a little “Overwhelming.” Jon Bellion opened his set with the first song on ‘The Human Condition,’ the honest tell-all “He Is the Same.” He then proceeded to perform the majority of the album’s tracks, adding in rap verses and remixed elements to change things up and keep fans on their feet.

 

The energy of the fans brought a new level of excitement and enjoyment to Bellion’s performance because he fed off every little bit of it. The “Bel-li-on!” chants between songs didn’t let up, prompting Bellion to smile and giggle several times. When technical difficulties with the microphone and band brought the show to a temporary halt, Bellion quickly stepped in with some rap improv.

 

In a special moment between Bellion and his insanely passionate Toronto fans, he told the crowd a recent story connected to his ultimate dream, which is to score a Pixar movie. In fact, one of the tour merchandise items, a booklet featuring Pixar-style drawings for each song on the album, includes a letter Bellion wrote to Pixar where he presents his album as a pitch and business plan. Bellion explained that at a recent show, someone who came backstage congratulated him out of the blue. “What for?” he asked. As it turns out, the man worked for Pixar. All Bellion could tell the crowd was this: some awesome stuff is about to go down, and when you have a vision, keep chasing it and you’ll eventually reach what it is you’re running after.

If that wasn’t enough for fans to be hype for, Bellion ended his set with a throwback performance of his 2013 release “Jim Morrison” from his mixtape ‘The Separation.’

If you missed the show, or are eagerly awaiting your next opportunity to catch one of 2016’s hottest rising artists, you luckily won’t have to wait long. Fans can look forward to part two of The Human Condition Tour, which returns to Toronto on October 27.

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