The two electro-pop newcomers, neither of whom had cracked the U.S. consciousness this time last year, sang together before 3,000 shrieking teen fans Tuesday night, unveiling a magnetic duet of Mark Ronson's bump-and-go jam "Somebody to Love Me."
The pair traded lines and bopped along, two 21-year-old entertainers popping hips and shoulders to the downbeat, and as the two turned to face each other, both saw a mirror image -- of an artist who's already reeled in the young, alternative-leaning population, and is ready to land a hook on the mainstream.
Sivan, a wistfully romantic and openly gay dream-pop crooner from Australia, is further along in the process; his acclaimed debut LP "Blue Neighbourhood" released last December went gold in America, and he's been headlining formidable venues -- including two sold-out nights at New York's Terminal 5 Monday and Tuesday -- nonstop since February. He admitted to the crowd Tuesday he'd never played a real show before late 2015.
But for his recent successes and the decidedly melancholic fuzz of "Neighbourhood," Sivan was humble to a fault and overflowing with Aussie hospitality, thanking the crowd again and again for coming, singing a full-band "Happy Birthday" to a fan, and gushing about how obsessed he is with the Big Apple.
"I used to get crazy overwhelmed coming to New York," he said. "It was the polar opposite of what I was used to in Australia. But now I can't get enough."
He was also upbeat about the election -- he doesn't have to live here -- saying he was proud of the unity he saw at a recent protest and that "we have to keep fighting a little bit harder for the next four years." Expected cheers came from the LGBT-friendly crowd.
Only within Sivan's pulsing, Lorde-esque digital tracks did the singer recede into his moody counter-persona, often shadowed or backlit with his three-piece band by a wall of LED screens and swaying through heartsick lyrics: "everything's shattering and it's my mistake / only fools fall for you."
The somber moments were striking; at once the polished, left-of-center sound of 2016 and redolent of alt-pop faves The 1975 or New Jersey's own Halsey, but not overtly derivative. Perhaps it is his earnestness that sets Sivan aside. Even if his songs aren't especially challenging for his creamy chops, the unassuming, blue-eyed and curly-mopped kid -- he looks to be about 17 -- is believable in his bouts of misery, in a way Justin Bieber certainly is not.
Though the reaction to every song in the 90-minute set, from his crisp, bright singles "Wild" and "Youth" to the deeper and more despondent "Ease" and "Suburbia," was met with Bieber-like fanfare. It was as if the crowd of teens and college kids had waited a lifetime to hear the songs they'd only just discovered earlier this year.
The audience was set loose an hour earlier, by the U.K. dance-pop beauty and opener Lipa, who turned in a confident, thumping mini-set. Playing her largest crowds yet, the Kosovo native took full opportunity to strut, snap her hips and wail over her crop of banging tunes, most of which are due out on her debut LP early next year. Several jams, including the buoyant "Be The One" and sassy new single "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)" have caught fire online and overseas, and the bass drop to the coming track "Want To" is truly explosive. Don't be surprised if Lipa is back headlining Terminal 5 in 2017 -- and Sivan is moving on to arenas.
TROYE SIVAN'S SET LIST
- "Too Good"
- "for him."
- "Happy Little Pill"
- "The Quiet"
- "Somebody to Love Me" (Mark Ronson cover, with Dua Lipa)
- "Talk Me Down"
- "Lost Boy"
For him part 1 in NYC ( night 2 ) #troyesivan #tyleroakley #connorfranta #jacobbixenman #tracob #troyler #tronnor #conler #otp #brotp #friendship #bromance #fangirl #famdom #family #bestfamily #bestfandom #idol #love #truelove #loveislove #gay #gayboys #gorgeous #beyourself #youtube #youtuber #SuburbiaTour