Kris Allen brought his Letting You In Tour to The Hamilton in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night. Allen has worked nonstop since his American Idol win in 2009, and his extensive tour is no exception. Before taking to the stage at The Hamilton, Allen visited 94.7 Fresh FM and performed two songs while visiting Great Day, Washington and, to top it all off, performed his single, “Waves” at Good Day DC. What a morning! Such a nonstop schedule might have anyone else pulling their hair out, but Kris is an old pro. When he brought his signature charm and cool attitude to The Hamilton stage, you’d never be able to tell he’d had such a long day.
Letting You In was released on Allen’s independent label, Dogbear Records, which just goes to show that his rigorous promotion schedule is due to his love of music rather than an overbearing team of studio heads burning his candle at both ends. His dedication to his music and his fans is reciprocated generously; the venue was packed with fans of all ages who likely have supported Kris since his Idol beginnings.
After Arlington local Tyler Woolf and Boston’s Sean McConnell played a quality opening act, Kris started his setlist with the upbeat opener from Letting You In, “Love Will Find You”. The acoustics at The Hamilton were perfection; the show started with a beautiful sound that made Kris’ vocals feel like this show was being played at a sold out stadium instead of a much more intimate venue. This lasted all night — unsurprisingly, each of Allen’s songs felt even grander with a live band.
Opening act Sean McConnell remarked about how genuine and likable Kris and his band are, and Kris’ stage presence made McConnell’s claims undeniable. Even the most somber part of the show was made easier by Kris poking fun at the fact something serious was coming. Before heading into “If We Keep Doing Nothing”, Allen took a moment to remark on the inspiration for the song: the Oregon college shooting in 2015 and gun violence in general. The lyrics became even more meaningful and palpable as Kris masterfully used his art to shine a light on a dark matter.
His single from Letting You In, “Waves”, felt even darker and sultry live, with an insane swelling beat and Kris’ pristine vocals coming together to create pure love-song ecstasy.
Before performing the night’s song request (“Alright With Me” from his debut album), Allen’s band took a break, leaving him alone with just his guitar. Allen joked that the rapture must have taken place. (“What does that say about us?”) He offered to play music for the rest of eternity, and I don’t think anyone in the audience would have complained.
Horizon‘s “In Time” is said to be one of Kris’ favorite songs that he’s written; it happened easily but has more meaning to him now. The song’s chorus, about learning to heal and trust again, are very intimate and pensive, but Kris didn’t allow the night to get too heavy. A cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” had everyone swaying and dancing as Kris rejuvenated an old classic with his twist on it. Hall & Oates’ “Maneater” also got a cover, mixed with Allen’s own “Monster”, featuring a divine sax solo.
After an encore of two songs — a cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” (dedicated to American Idol) and Allen’s own track “Lost” — the evening closed with a silly and fun “End of Show Song”, with a brief pause to take a photo with the audience. The camaraderie between Kris and his bandmates was infectious as everyone smiled and tossed their hands up for a photo to document the night.
There’s no doubt that Kris’ diehard fans were thrilled by their idol’s return to The Hamilton, but I think it’s also safe to say Allen rightfully earned himself some new fans in the audience, too. His pitch perfect and effortless vocals partnered with his wonderful charm no doubt brought a smile to everyone in the crowd. Even The Hamilton’s audio engineer (who struck me as much more of a rocker type than a Kris Allen fan), couldn’t help tapping his fingers and swaying through the night as he managed the soundboard.
Kris’ latest album, Letting You In, is available now on iTunes and Amazon. View more photos of Allen performing in Washington, DC. below. The tour heads to Richmond tonight, before wrapping up later this week with stops in North Carolina and Arkansas. Keep up with Kris on tour on his Twitter and Facebook.
Love Will Find You
Time Will Come
Better With You
Prove It To You
If We Keep Doing Nothing
Young Love (“Paul Simon””)
Alright With Me
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Monster / Maneater
Everybody Just Wants To Dance
Live Like We’re Dying
Feeling This Way
Ain’t No Sunshine
End Of Show Song