Still on the Rise: Khalid at the Moda Center

Vortex Music Magazine

Originally slated to perform at Theater of the Clouds, 20-year-old R&B pop sensation Khalid instead played to a full Moda Center arena to kick off the Northwest leg of The Roxy Tour.

“I never thought I’d be able to do stuff like this,” Khalid said, looking out over the near sold-out Portland crowd. Only a couple of years ago, Khalid Robinson was just a high school kid with a dream. When he was only 16 years old, the soon-to-be superstar put out “Location,” the song that carried him into the music stratosphere.

Released just last year, his debut record, American Teen, made use of R&B with an 80s pop twist, packed to the brim with the teen’s own honest and vulnerable lyrical ability. On the heels of its release, Portland got its first taste of Khalid with a sold-out Roseland show. Selling out the Roseland was impressive in itself for the short span of his career, but if Khalid’s skill has proven anything, it’s that he’s nowhere near the end of his rise.

So as he looked out over the thousands of exuberant fans, welcoming him with open arms to his first-ever arena tour, the dream of that high school kid was still in his eyes. The thrill of it all for the fresh yet quickly experienced R&B sensation was evident.

His first-ever arena spectacle fed off of his fresh energy and poppy musicality, showcasing his young and carefree energy and giving the crowd a taste of his flawless vocals. Playing through 20 tracks, most cut from his debut, along with a few of his hit collaborations with artists such as Calvin Harris and Marshmello, Khalid’s abilities were evident.

Though the show was very much centered around the artist's own spritely energy and vocal dynamism, Khalid had made sure the visual element was enough to fill the room. Khalid brought along a troupe of all female dancers. Together, they perfectly embodied the radiant energy of the superstar and his music, joining together for several choreographed dance sequences.

Though the set clocked in at nearly two hours (an impressive span for someone with only one album under his belt), Khalid’s musical ability and radiant personality let the time fly. Closing out his set, he even gave the crowd a taste of what’s to come.

“I’ve been in the studio every week making new music for you all,” he said. “This is a new song. It’s unreleased and I’m really nervous but let’s do it.”

For the first time in a live setting, Khalid let the Portland crowd in on a couple of his newest works, two unreleased songs titled “Raining in Miami” and “Better.” Both tracks made it even more clear that Khalid is still on the rise. Though he may already be playing to packed arenas and topping charts, his new music demonstrated even more potential. As The Roxy Tour continues and new music from the R&B sensation inches closer, only time will tell how much higher Khalid can go. From here, the end is nowhere in sight.

Upon his premiere of new material, Khalid offered a hint at a release date for his new record. Be on the lookout for a sophomore release in the fall.

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