by Taylar Kobylas and Chloe Seymour
Who is Jon Bellion? We at How Was It Detroit were curious. His show at The Fillmore wasn’t on our radar for Must See Concerts this month. Apparently, we aren’t as cool as we thought. After a bit of research, we found Jon Bellion to be a pretty BFD. We couldn’t miss a show like this, even if we would be the only people there that didn’t know he was. So we sent our writers, Taylar Kobylas and Chloe Seymour, to check out the show. So…How Was It?
Taylar Kobylas: To be honest, I expected a Jason DeRulo type and it ended up being way more. You knew about Jon Bellion more than me, was it on par with what you expected?
Chloe Seymour: Kind of. I thought the crowd was going to be a little more hipster-esque. But then when we got there we realized we were grandmothers and maybe the oldest people at the show [laughs].
(Editor’s Note: Both Chloe and Taylar are under 30 years old.)
TK: We were easily in the older percentile. I felt very out of my element and worried “This is not even the type of show that I usually go to. How do I react?” I was even more surprised that, when I was in front of the barricades taking pictures, everybody had the Human Condition hats on [the name of the tour]. I thought they were giving them out and we just didn’t get ours. But no, the fans were really that into this show.
CS: Yeah, I did a little research before we went and found out that Jon was a producer and had worked behind the scenes for a lot of big names. I think you could kind of tell that he was a producer when he got onstage just by the way that he directed the band and the fact that he was still a part of the music even when he was singing. When he played “All Time Low” he was at the computer pushing the buttons.
TK: He owned the set. He knew what he was doing. You knew you were going to get something solid out of it, even though I’d never heard of this guy and didn’t really know his music before the show.
CS: The fact that everyone around us knew every single word to his songs felt like “Well, shit. I’m missing something, obviously”. This is what the kids are listening to these days.
TK: [laughs] For sure. It was kind of this flash forward type moment where I realized “Wow, I’m out of touch”. The next day, I was driving in the car listening to the radio and Jon’s song comes on. So the DJ was talking about the fact that her mom said, “Who is this Jon Bellion guy?” All I could think was “That me! That’s my life.” I thought, “He doesn’t sound the same on the recording as he does live.” What was even weirder was he sounded kind of auto-tuned up close when I was taking photos. But when I came back to our seats he sounded much better. It was bizarre.
CS: I would just like to also note that besides his musical talent, he’s very good looking. [laughs] When he was doing his hip thrusting motion behind his computer, the seventeen-year-old girls next to me went fucking crazy! And I went a little crazy too.
TK: Trying to take photos from beneath the stage at crotch level was an experience. [laughs] What did you think of the opening acts?
CS: I really liked the second guy, Travis Mendes. I thought his voice was great. I would’ve liked Blaque Keyz in a different setting. When you go to a pop show, you’re not really looking for what I call, “logical rap”, which he was. I thought he was really good, I just thought he didn’t fit the lineup.
TK: I totally agree and I think if it were somebody else I would’ve said, “That was a killer opener, I’m psyched for this show.” But the three openers were in three different genres that didn’t seem to match what the Jon Bellion genre is, at all. It didn’t tee me up as “I’m prepared for this and excited for what is to come.” I was very confused. I actually think the first opener, SonReal, seemed the closest to the headliner. A little Mac-Miller-ish.
CS: And he was little machine gun Kelly, Mac Miller-y. Not usually the vibe I’m into, but then you went into the second guy who was almost like gospel.
TK: Yes! He was good, his voice was great.
CS: And then the third, Blaque Keyz, he was kind of deep rap and I appreciate deep rap in smaller venues. So it was kind of hard for him to amp up the crowd. But then Jon Bellion came out and kind of hopped around, so it was a different vibe.
TK: It was weird too because it felt like the crowd translated that way from act to act. For the first opener, it felt like it was at Central Michigan University. Like we could’ve easily been there by mistake. Everyone had a genuine appreciation for the fact that Travis Mendes can sing and the crowd was quieter. Then for Blaque Keyz, you wanted to hear him and understand his rap. By the time Jon Bellion came on, everyone was screaming their heads off.
CS: We were back at CMU. FIRE UP CHIPS!
TK: [laughs] But worse than that. Like Backstreet Boys level of volume meets CMU level of age. It didn’t feel Detroit-y to me.
CS: I agree, but overall, I thought it was good.
TK: It was good and definitely a brand new experience for me.
CS: Yeah. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and this one felt like a college concert. I think that’s definitely the demographic. His stage presence was really awesome. I thought his light show and everything was great. The way that the crowd reacted to him was almost God-like.
TK: Jon had a backing band too, which I liked. That’s what brought the college age vs. the mid to late 20s divide together. He had support from real musicians, not just a computer.
CS: I agree. But overall, it was a good show!
TK: Would you go again if given the opportunity?
CS: I would! I would’ve drank a lot more. [laughs] That would’ve put me in the right mindset. I just think if I was a huge fan of his that probably would’ve been the hypest show I’ve ever been to. But being an outsider in that…
TK: …we didn’t quite know how to prepare. But we do now and know for next time.