REVIEW: Khalid finds his own happiness at sold-out Oracle Arena concert


Khalid performs on the Free Spirit World Tour at Oracle Arena in Oakland on June 28, 2019. Photos: Steve Carlson.

OAKLAND — Khalid took the Oracle stage for the first time on Friday night with a sold-out show in support of his sophomore album, Free Spirit. He kicked it off with “Intro,” blending it seamlessly into his new album’s title track, “Free Spirit.” The soaring cuts set the bar for a fun show ahead. The singer-songwriter then went right into “8TEEN,” a nod to his 2017 debut album, American Teen. The high intensity dance number had the fans jumping to the beat and screaming the lyrics.


Khalid performs on the Free Spirit World Tour at Oracle Arena in Oakland on June 28, 2019.

Khalid had such a strong stage presence that even with introspectively sad numbers like “Coaster,” fans still seemed totally engrossed in the moment. Song after song had many up from their seats. He continued the first half of the show performing songs mostly from American Teen, which acted as a baseline for what was to come in the latter segment of the performance.

He distinguished the American Teen era from the Free Spirit era with a video showing Khalid receiving the key to his hometown, El Paso, Texas. The footage featured Khalid talking about enjoying the things he loves legally, now that he’s 21. The footage segued into the second half of the evening, which focused more on Khalid’s singles and collaborations like “Love Lies” and “Silence.”


Khalid performs on the Free Spirit World Tour at Oracle Arena in Oakland on June 28, 2019.

Distinct visuals gave each song each personality, bringing Khalid’s mix of R&B and electro-pop to life. Some of the visual elements showed him and his friends behaving like the youths they were; driving around with their heads out of a car window, hanging out.

His team of backing dancers wore his merchandise for most of the performance, adding pops of color to their overall neon outfits. Khalid joined in with much of the choreography as well. It looked like he was having the time of his life. Parts of the performance felt like a high school pep rally with the high energy coming from everyone on stage.

Khalid ended the show with “Saturday Night,” a slightly calmer song that acted as a come-down from previous highs. The song was preceded by a short voiceover about how he came up with the concept of Free Spirit, allowing fans to gain some insight into his creative process. Fear used to play a big role in life and barred him from doing what he wanted to do, he said. Khalid was afraid of what other people would say or think. Only once he accepted that he wouldn’t be able to make everyone happy did he decide to follow what would make him happy.

Opening act Clairo teased many songs from her forthcoming album and also played fan favorites from her EP Diary 001. Her set of bedroom pop was on the mellower side, but that didn’t stop fans from singing along and swaying to songs like “Pretty Girl” and “Flaming Hot Cheetos,” her first to gain attention from fans and the industry. The songs mostly stuck to the lo-fi feel of the recorded versions.

Follow reporter Aarushi Nanda at and at photographer Steve Carlson at and

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