(By: Angela McLean)
Greyson Chance has all the makings of a star – an extensive discography, refined sound, creative vision, and dedication to his craft.
This weekend (March 2 and 3) at The Drake Underground in Toronto, Chance rounded out his star talents by proving his live show is worth the watch.
“Last year I was in college and now I’m out here playing shows for you guys,” the newly-minted 21-year-old told the first of two near-sell out crowds Saturday night. But this is far from the R&B/pop artist’s introduction to the world.
Many fans in attendance would know Chance from his early beginnings as a child prodigy who performed original songs and covers of hits like Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” on international stages, including The Ellen Show. His latest Toronto gig was a Toronto District School Board-sponsored youth concert at the Canadian National Exhibition in 2011.
Musically, Greyson today is in many ways almost unrecognizable, yet entirely the same as before. Most noteworthy, he maintains a ‘portrait’-like approach to songwriting, with each song telling an honest and raw story pulled from a moment in his life—so much so that ‘Portraits’ is the title of his upcoming album, due out March 15.
Chance opened his show with his latest single “Shut Up,” a minimalistic falling-in-love song that reasons kissing is the best resolution to the awkward, early, over-speaking stage of a relationship. Although the set didn’t go as far back as his 2011 debut ‘Hold On ‘Til The Night,’ it included several fan favourites released in recent years like last year’s “Good as Gold” and an acoustic take on 2017’s “Low.”
The show’s real selling point was the exclusive first play of ‘Portraits,’ save for two tracks—“Plains” and “Lights.” Songs like “Black on Black” highlighted Chance’s vocal versatility and also gave the artist a chance to get up close and personal with the audience.
In addition to previewing the album through his performances, Chance shed insight on the creative process and explained the meaning behind several songs on the album. “West Texas,” for example, is about the time a 12-year-old Chance was given a talking-to from his mom for saying “This one’s to all the people that have f-cked me over!” during a performance at a frat house (“You can imagine how short that list would have been back then,” he joked).
He also acknowledged the album’s themes of growth and healing from heartbreak.
“As a songwriter the only way I know how to heal is through writing,” Chance described. “I put a lot of my heartache into this album. … It’s just as much yours as it is mine.”
On that note, he left his Toronto fans with a few parting words: “This is just the beginning.”
Perhaps that is true. Despite his past repertoire, Chance recently revealed that he feels ‘Portraits’ is truly his debut. “[Hold On ‘Til The Night] is a chapter that I’m really proud of, but it wasn’t an extension of me,” he tweeted. His new material delves into his outlooks on life, love, sex and sexuality with little to no filter. It shows a 21-year-old discovering himself in the public eye and not shying away from being a little vulnerable.
While Chance may not yet be the biggest showman in the market, his vocal talents and his message stand tall on their own.
Indeed, this is just the beginning—and you should stay tuned for what’s next.