Boy Bands and Another One, and Another One, and Another One
By Jacqueline Rodriguez
2018 has been the year for new boy bands such as Why Don’t We, Prettymuch, Brockhampton and In Real Life. They seem to get more popular by the second, and In Real Life is no exception. The up and coming pop group assembled on the American television series “Boy Band” on ABC. The competition sought thousands of talented singers who auditioned for one of the five spots in a band that would receive a recording contract from Hollywood Records. Brady Tutton, Chance Perez, Drew Ramos, Sergio Calderon, and Michael Conor all managed to steal the hearts of the show’s young audience and snag a spot in the winning group. Since winning the show, the group has released seven songs, and their most famous one is “Eyes Closed.” The band also recently finished opening on the American Idol Tour, and just kicked off their first ever headlining tour, the “Tonight Belongs to You” Tour.
On Sept. 21, In Real Life brought this tour to Chicago’s House of Blues.
The show kicked off with a performance by Spencer Sutherland, a soul pop and R&B singer. The crowd sang along as he covered ballads by Ed Sheeran and Jon Bellion, as well as a few of his own songs. At one point, Sutherland asked for song requests from the audience and serenaded the crowd of young girls. Sutherland’s mellow performance picked up speed when he ended his set with his new, upbeat single “Fine.” Fans were already sweating and it had only been 30 minutes since the show began.
The second act that took the stage was music group JAGMAC, made up of six siblings from Baltimore, who have recently been named Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing.” Their performance was upbeat and energetic from the second they hit the stage. The group sang, danced and even showcased some of their karate skills. “We’re all black belts in Tae Kwon Do,” said member Manjo Patalinghug, who mentioned that he had also been a two- time World-Champion. Their colorful and original garments made it almost impossible to look away. As their set came close to the end, many people braced their cell phones and put them in the air with their camera app opened, awaiting the arrival of In Real Life.
The lights went down for a third time, and the mainly teenage girl crowd knew it was time for the main act to take the stage: the moment some girls had been waiting for since the group was announced over a year ago. I overheard a young girl tell someone who seemed to be her mother, “I’m seeing In Real Life, in real life.”
As anticipated, the crowd of teenage girls yelled at the top of their lungs as the band took the stage. They opened with their first and most successful song, “Eyes Closed.” The audience yelled the lyrics as loudly as they could in an attempt to catch the attention of one of the five members. When the fans thought they had made eye contact with a member, they broke down in tears and their energy levels seemed to rise soon after. Paying respects to older, more successful boy bands, the band sang many classics such as “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay, “Burnin’ Up” by the Jonas Brothers, and “Drag Me Down” by One Direction. The floor of the venue shook as people danced. The crowd’s energy was clearly reflective of the energy of the band. The group’s self-proclaimed rapper, Michael Conor, stood solo on the stage giving an inspirational talk to the young audience to not “let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams” and proceeded to freestyle about the challenges he has faced to make his dream a reality. Conor left the stage and the crowd cheered him on as other members got to sing their own solo piece, showcasing each of their individual talents. As the show came to an end, In Real Life came back for an encore, singing the mashup they sang when the group was first formed. Sweaty teenagers exited the venue as soon as they could, hoping to catch one last glimpse of the group as they left.