YouTube star Alex Aiono attracted the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at The Observatory. Last Wednesday night, mobs of screaming girls and their enthusiastic boyfriends wrapped around the North Park venue, waiting in line to see online sensations Alex Aiono and William Singe on their first-ever international tour. Aiono was recently signed to Interscope Records, although he’s no newbie to the singing life.
Aiono, 21, has cultivated a massive fanbase through his extremely popular YouTube channel. The natural-born talent creates mash-ups and covers of popular songs. With almost 5 million subscribers, Aiono was discovered and has recently released an original song, “Work the Middle.” He’s collaborated in YouTube videos with Australian YouTube artist William Singe, and going on this tour together has proven to be a major step in his career.
Alex was a natural on stage. He brought with him his iconic wooden-cased Mac that appears in every one of his YouTube videos. He was a ball of contagious energy—dancing across stage, getting up close to the crowd to serenade his audience, and smiling wide with that trademark grin the whole time. It was truly incredible to see how many fans were there supporting him, based almost solely on his undeniable talent that he’s been able to share online.
He gifted the crowd with two new songs, “More Fire” and “How Fine You Are,” which the audience went crazy for. He dedicated Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” to his ‘big bro’ William Singe, and led it into a perfect rendition of Drake’s “Doing It Wrong.” He also sang the popular “Bad and Boujee” by Migos but admitted, “that was a little hard for me [referring to the rapping] ‘cause I usually do songs like this,” as he smoothly transitioned into a soulful “Controlla” by Drake.
This show—their 39th—was particularly special to Aiono because of his connection to San Diego. He spent every summer here with his aunt and uncle as a child, and many of his San Diego family had come to the show to support him. “Being here in San Diego and looking at all of these beautiful people in this room,” he said, “is better than I could have ever imagined.”
He was extremely humbled by his cheering fans, and showing that same humility and friendliness that he does in his YouTube videos. He pointed out that his little sister Hallie, who is also a YouTube star, was selling his merchandise at the back of the venue. He was blown away by the fact that members of the audience were already wearing his shirts. “You guys could’ve worn anything—I’m wearing a shirt with a flower. You’re wearing a shirt with me! It’s pretty incredible.”
He ended his solo performance with his most famous mash-up of Drake’s “One Dance” and “Hasta el Amanecer” by Nicky Jam, which has gained almost 55 million views on YouTube. This was a crowd favorite, and it was a great way to end his solo performance.
Thankfully, Alex returned to the stage! He joined William to help him tackle “Bad and Boujee” and Big Sean’s “Bounce Back.” The two were invigorating—their in-person chemistry overflowed its already perfected presence online. They danced around and serenaded each other. The brotherly love was real on stage, and the crowd loved it. They switched roles and Singe sang the chorus of Alex’s “Work the Middle” while Alex sang Singe’s single “Rush.” They concluded with an adorable secret handshake. They also replicated many of their YouTube mash-ups. At one point Alex suggested they play four chords and see how many songs they could sing. They sang their hearts out to their “Fake Love, Broccoli & Caroline” mash-up with songs by Drake, D.R.A.M. and Aminé. They killed the live performance of “Black Beatles, Confessions and No Problem,” and ended with a final full-length rendition of “Confessions,” saying they thought it was one their fans needed to hear.
Written by Victoria Moorwood.
Content Strategist at Aztec Music Group.