On Tuesday, Sept. 26, The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco was filled with loud shrieks and cheers of enthusiastic radio contest winners. The cause for all of the excitement: An exclusive concert with burgeoning pop artist Shawn Mendes. Presented by XFINITY, WiLD 94.9’s One Night with Shawn Mendes was a special win-your-way-in event, and if the screams before the show were any indication, Mendes’s fans were ready for a night of live music.
The 19-year-old Canadian-born singer gained notoriety on Vine back in 2013 for his pop music covers, including a take on Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me.” In 2014, he released an EP, and in the spring of 2015, he released his first full-length LP, Handwritten, which features the uber-popular single, “Stitches.” In the fall of 2016, Mendes released his sophomore effort, Illuminate, which debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 and spawned two radio staples: “Treat You Better” and “Mercy.”
As fans flooded the main floor at The Regency, they were greeted with a Wild 94.9 DJ set—a little something to tide over the vivacious crowd. However, when the clock hit 8:30 p.m. and the room went dark, the familiar chords of Mendes’s current single, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” caused the already excited room to erupt into high decibel screams that did not relent for the remainder of the evening. Fans sang along to every word as Mendes confidently performed songs from both Illuminate and Handwritten.
Throughout the night, the charismatic Mendes engaged with his young crowd, from crouching down to sing right to those in the front row to throwing out guitar picks in the middle of songs. In an effort to make sure everyone in attendance, especially his fans up front, were safe and comfortable on the main floor, the singer stopped his show early on to have everyone take a few steps back to give everyone some breathing room in the toasty venue.
Mendes displayed strong musicianship, reminiscent of John Mayer (an obvious influence), switching between both acoustic and electric guitars as well as playing a couple songs, including a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill,” on piano. His passion for music bled through each of his songs, especially during “Bad Reputation” and “Ruin,” where his soulful, nuanced performances were the true showstoppers of the night.
It’s not hard to believe the amount of success Mendes has had in such a relatively short time. He showcased compelling live vocals and artistic versatility, which makes him stand out among his contemporaries. On top of that, he has a passionate fan base that absolutely adores him. Mendes seemed to handle their adoration with ease and looked genuinely thrilled to see his sea of fans on the floor and in the balcony sing his lyrics back to him.
Mendes closed out his set with “Treat You Better,” which elicited an overwhelming response from the crowd. After instructing his fans to “scream it” part way through the song, they more than obliged, singing the chorus at the top of their lungs. It’s that connection between an artist and their fans that makes live shows all that more special. With a final glory note, Mendes thanked the audience, adding, with a smile, “I’ll see you soon.”
Originally published by Academy Art U News. Photos by Kirsten Coachman/WaitWhatMusic.net.