On the evening of October 30, grentperez performed at The Danforth Music Hall. The 21-year-old musician was headlining as part of his North American “growing up?” tour, having released his most recent EP When We Were Younger this June. 

Fans lined up in the cold all along Danforth Avenue, and at 7:00 pm sharp, they filtered in through the venue’s doors. Almost all were young high school and university-aged teenagers, and animated conversations filled the place. As groups of friends holding signs hurried down the slanted floor of the concert hall, security guards repeatedly told them not to run. A few ran anyway, giggling with adrenaline and excitement. Many people can be heard speaking in Filipino. Though raised in Sydney, Australia, grentperez — or Grant Perez — is of Filipino descent, and the demographic of his fans reflects his roots: the place is filled with young Filipino-Canadians.

During opener nep’s set, the crowd holds up phone flashlights, arms swaying.  AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY

When grentperez took the stage, he burst on with electrifying energy, starting off his set with the upbeat song “When The Day Is Done.” The indie-pop rising star made his way across the stage with a grin, as his magnetic stage presence and strong vocals captured the entire room. In between songs, he interacted with the crowd, making jokes and filling the air with warm laughter. It felt like a small hangout with good friends. 

grentperez holds up a lucky fan’s phone to record, having earlier taken a picture using another fan’s digital camera.  AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY
Midway through the show, grentperez is alone on stage, slowing down the set with wistful love songs.  AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY

“Can I get a ‘mahal kita’ on the count of three? One! Two! Three!” grentperez gestured with both hands as if he’s the one listening to music, while the crowd answered with a shout: “Mahal kita!” 

“Wow,” he laughed. “So fluent. Now you guys can, like, immigrate to the Philippines.” 

“Mahal kita” means “I love you” in Filipino, and several young fans held up hand-drawn signs that said “Mahal kita, kuya” — “I love you, older brother.” 

grentperez makes a heart with his hands in response to fans in the crowd. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY
In a playful moment, guitarist Timi Temple strums grentperez’s guitar from behind. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY
grentperez’s drummer, Ichi Tanabe, beams on stage, bathed in magenta lighting. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY