Destin Conrad’s Siren Songs Sell Out The Opera House

The Floridian R&B singer captures a willing audience with sultry melodies at his first-ever Toronto show

Who: Destin Conrad
Where: The Opera House, 735 Queen St. E.
When: Sat., March 2
Vibe: Heady and intimate
Next: The SUBMISSIVE Tour continues in the U.S. with the next show in Boston
Highlight: The entire audience singing and dancing along with the funky soul performance of Jaguar, the title track off Monét’s last project.
Rating: NNNNN (out of 5)

OPENER Amaria, like the headliner, is from Florida and her smoky vocals are a hit with the crowd despite her shy vibe. As she loosens up, we do too, and soon there’s an unprompted singalong happening. She gets a great reception, but everyone wants the main act.

Singer-songwriter and R&B rising star Destin Conrad has worked with R&B heavy hitters like Kehlani, Ambré and Masego. It’s clear from the crowd’s anticipation that the 23-year-old’s star is only getting brighter. As we wait, the already dense crowd becomes denser, and couples with arms wrapped around each other sway to classic R&B songs coming through the speakers. This crowd is ready to go, and when Conrad finally arrives, the screams are deafening.

Conrad opens with the first track from the SUBMISSIVE album, MARIPOSA, to the delight of the crowd, but it’s the reggae-infused LUV N DEVOTION that really gets us in a frenzy. He’s accompanied simply by an electric guitarist decked out in SUBMISSIVE merch. Like his music, Conrad’s outfit is understated in its seduction: a sleeveless tank top with a low V-neck and an assortment of silver jewellery. The moody lighting compliments his lust-laden lyrics. Conrad is a lithe dancer, but there’s no need for assigned choreography; we’re all hypnotized by the music. The crowd screams back the lyrics for almost every song, especially during BILL$, one of the most popular tracks from Conrad’s first project, COLORWAY. He stops to tell us how grateful he is for selling out the show and for our support given he’s only been releasing music for about three years. The crowd roars in response.

Midway, we’re treated to a guitar solo while Conrad disappears backstage. He returns with Amaria to perform their song, All for You. It’s an endearing show of support between the collaborators. Towards the end, he asks if he could perform songs from his earlier projects and the crowd, you guessed it, screams its approval. During DAY PARTY, the crowd readily sings along, “Drink, smoke, fuck / I’m at the day party!”

Conrad closes with DAYDREAM and IN THE AIR, both classics from his discography. He attempts a false exit, but the crowd won’t have it. From right in front of the stage all the way to the balcony, this is one of the most engaged crowds I’ve ever seen.

Conrad’s built an impressive and organic fanbase in a city he’d previously never been.