Ryan Beatty is a name I stumbled upon a few years ago while shuffling through my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. It was "Cupid" from his album Boy In Jeans, a queer, coming-of-age, indie-pop masterpiece. Beatty followed up with his second album, the more experimental Dreaming of David in January 2020. However, just six weeks after its release in March 2020, he seemed to vanish from the music scene and world of celebrity itself after COVID-19 cancelled its accompanying tour. Now, after three years of silence and a triumphant comeback with his latest LP, Calico, in April, I had the opportunity to attend his long-anticipated return to the stage during the Chicago stop of his intimate five-show "california in every color" tour.
The show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on September 17th was completely sold out and filled to the brim with a diverse audience, many of whom identified as LGBTQ+ like Beatty himself, who is openly gay. By the end of the night, Beatty's vocal magic had driven most of them to tears. Given the size of the crowd in such a small venue, I never expected this to become one of the most intimate concerts I have ever attended.
"White Teeth" - Ryan Beatty
"White Teeth" - Ryan Beatty
"Bruises Off The Peach" - Ryan Beatty
There was no opening act for the show that started a little before 8pm. Ryan's band was arranged in a half-circle formation on the stage, all facing the audience. The entire stage setup created the atmosphere of a recording studio where a live, in-studio band would perform. Even though we were in a music venue like Lincoln Hall, Beatty and his band's arrangement made it feel as if we were simply sitting in on their in-studio jam session. Throughout the majority of the show, Beatty remained seated on a stool in the middle of the stage, delivering his beautiful vocals into the microphone, and that was all I needed. This was an experience I had never encountered at a live show, and I cherished every moment.
Every song from Calico was performed at the show, a detail I appreciated. In my opinion, when you're on a tour for an album, you should perform the album in its entirety. I was thoroughly impressed with Beatty's live vocal performance throughout the night; it was raw and emotionally charged, beautifully encapsulating the essence of the tracks, particularly those from the folksy Calico. Every time he ventured into his higher register, it was sheer perfection.
"Little Faith" - Ryan Beatty
"Andromeda" - Ryan Beatty
"Andromeda" (Outro) - Ryan Beatty
Some of the standout moments from the set included "Bruises Off The Peach," "Andromeda," "Haircut," "Evergreen," "Powerslide," and "Little Faith"; however, the entirety of the set itself (included below) was a standout. Beatty's performance had the crowd utterly enchanted, and at one point, the sheer volume of cheers left him momentarily speechless before proclaiming his love for the city of Chicago.
Seeing Ryan Beatty live is a rare opportunity, and I'm grateful to have been among the fortunate ones who experienced it before he potentially takes another hiatus until his next album. When the next opportunity arises, and the dreamy and enigmatic Ryan Beatty returns to Chicago once again, do yourself a favor and make sure you don't miss it.
"Bright Red" - Ryan Beatty
"Cinnamon Bread" - Ryan Beatty
Rating: 5/5 ★
RYAN BEATTY SETLIST
Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - 9/18/2023
"Bruises Off The Peach"
Not quite ready for the impending autumn takeover? You can extend the summer vibe with Ryan Beatty's scorching album, Calico, below.