R&B Artist Giveon Performs at Sold-Out Concert

Giveon performed to a sold-out crowd at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom while on tour for his newest album, “Give or Take.”


Brian Ziff Photo

Giveon is known for his distinct sound, smooth vocals, and riveting songwriting.

By Sabrina Chang, Arts Reporter

Grammy-nominated R&B artist Giveon performed to a sold-out crowd in Chicago on October 2. This marked the 33rd show on his North America tour for his newest album, Give or Take. The setlist also included several hits from his 2021 album, including “When It’s All Said and Done.”

Giveon is an artist from Long Beach, California who rose to fame after popular collaborations with big-name artists like Drake and Justin Bieber. He released his breakthrough single, “Heartbreak Anniversary,” in 2020. Giveon is known for his distinct sound, smooth vocals, and riveting songwriting. He cites Frank Sinatra, Frank Ocean, and Drake as some of his biggest inspirations. His album Give or Take explores themes of fame, love, and heartbreak—seemingly cliché concepts, but given new life and meaning by Giveon’s unique, timeless voice and his lyrical vulnerability.

Female R&B artists Rimon and Jenevieve each performed the opening acts. Rimon is an up-     and-coming artist who released her first single, “Grace,” in 2018. Her upbeat and intimate music combined dancehall, neo-soul, and hip-hop influences. I especially enjoyed her performance of “Build Me a House,” which was released just last August. Jenevieve has a similarly soulful sound, but she also has a strong dance background that makes her an extremely entertaining performer. Her performance included songs from her recently released EP, Rendezvous. Having two opening acts did make the concert seem quite long and definitely tested the audience’s patience.

Then it was time for the main act. Giveon emerged in the midst of flashing red lights and opened the show with “Still Your Best,” a song about someone’s crushed ego post-breakup. Giveon was flawless live, showing off his impressive vocals on each entrancing ballad. He has an extremely unique voice that embodies many jazzy and neo-soul qualities. It’s buttery, baritone, warm, and creates a hauntingly beautiful sound that is powerful and evocative yet soothing to the ear. He puts a fresh spin on his songs with added harmonies and runs, some altered notes, and even an electric guitar solo from his band. Giveon is known for ending his songs with raw audio such as short snippets of conversation, and he kept these on the backing track during the concert.

Some artists deck out their concerts with extravagant props and costume changes, but Giveon let his songs speak for themselves. He performed with his band in the background, using only colored stage lights to spice up the show. Giveon also kept his outfit simple yet classy with a sleek black and white leather ensemble. While wild theatrics can be enticing, I’m glad that Giveon kept it more lowkey. It made the concert feel a lot more intimate and heartfelt—just like his songs.

Giveon made the concert feel even more personal through his frequent interactions with the audience. He read posters from the crowd aloud, took someone’s BeReal, dedicated “World We Created” to a couple, and even stayed after the concert to greet fans in the front row.

Giveon also made sure to give more casual fans their moment by performing renditions of “Peaches” and “Chicago Freestyle,” both extremely popular mainstream songs he made in collaboration with Justin Bieber and Drake, respectively. In his performance of “Peaches,” Giveon played a short recording of Bieber’s chorus from the studio version and then sang his own part live. I have always felt that Giveon outshined Bieber on this track. His smooth vocals and soulful qualities elevate the sound and give life to the (pretty basic) lyrics, and this tasteful performance definitely proved that feeling. For “Chicago Freestyle,” Giveon sang only the introduction of the song and used it as a short transition into the next song on his setlist, “dec 11th,” but it was obvious from the immediate screaming that everyone in the audience loved it; after all, it was only right that he sang “Chicago Freestyle” in Chicago.

Giveon also performed “For Tonight,” the lead single of his new album. In the press release, Giveon said that this song is “the story of a taboo vice that I just can’t seem to stop indulging in.” He also stated that he wanted the piece to be a “timeless classic ballad with movement.” This song is exactly that: a captivating composition with a catchy beat and lyrics that really portray the strong emotions surrounding a forbidden romance. The studio version emphasized the piano and drums, but the live performance also included an acoustic guitar      that gave the song a whole different feel and made it seem much more upbeat.

But of course, nothing can really beat the song that started it all. Giveon pretended to be finished with his setlist before coming back on stage for the grand finale of his breakthrough single, “Heartbreak Anniversary.” With a wine glass in hand, he belted out the song effortlessly with the crowd amping up his background vocals. It was undoubtedly the loudest song of the night. With the mystical atmosphere of the starry ceilinged ballroom, it truly felt like a magical ending to a night of magical music.