In Real Life performs to biggest crowd on tour


Alana Cervera, Online Managing Editor, Sports Columnist

ABC’s 2017 summer reality television series “Boy Band” winners In Real Life visited Chicago for their biggest concert on their Tonight Belongs To You tour, which is currently working its way through 26 cities in over two months.

Friday’s show at the House of Blues opened up first with two artists: 26-year-old soulful pop and R&B singer Spencer Sutherland, and JAGMAG, an upbeat, hip-hop sibling group with Disney Channel backing.

Each opening act performed five songs, including covers and originals. They engaged the largely teenage and female audience throughout their performances and got them warmed up for the headliner.

The five members of IRL, Brady Tutton, 16, Sergio Calderon, 17, Michael Conor, 18, Drew Ramos, 20, and Chance Perez, 20, spoke to the Central Times before hitting the stage. One the band’s earliest public performances was in Naperville Central High School’s Little Theatre during Homecoming week last year.  

Calderon spoke with Central Times before the concert and describes his experience with being a part of IRL.

“This is the first [tour] that’s just us, so it opens your eyes and makes you realize how many fans you have all around because I never knew how many people supported us,” Calderon said. “It’s been super fun.”

The boys opened  with “Eyes Closed,”  an upbeat pop song and the very first the boys produced together as a band.

“[My favorite song to perform is] ‘Eyes Closed’ because it feels very nostalgic,” Tutton said.

The next song, “How Badly,” took  a different turn with a sultry and R&B-grounded feeling. Conor performed a rap solo in the middle and showcased his individual talent.

The two original singles were followed by a medley of songs from popular boy bands such as One Direction, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, 5 Seconds of Summer and the Jonas Brothers. The boys’ harmonies were on pitch with them each singing a different part or even playing an instrument. Calderon, Tutton and Perez all played guitar on different covers with Ramos on vocals and Conor rapping and playing violin.

IRL performed their newest single “Got Me Good” before branching off into solos.

Conor kicked off the solo set  with an original rap about his personal experience as a musician. He spoke about never giving up and working hard to achieve your dreams despite seemingly big challenges. He rapped over the beat of “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B.

“I’m a white kid from Cleveland and I want to be a rapper,” Conor said. “My parents thought what [are you] doing? I used to be just a normal kid in high school but here I am.”

Calderon came on next, covering Liam Payne and J Balvin’s “Familiar.” The Spanish flavor added to the sensual and cool vibe of the concert. Tutton performed third, covering “Stay” by Post Malone with Perez on guitar next to him. This fan favorite resonated with the audience as they sang along. Perez covered “Sweet Creature” by Harry Styles with Tutton on guitar beside him as well. His high voice blended well with the smooth tone of the song. Closing the solo performances was Ramos singing Bazzi’s “Beautiful.” He showcased his wide vocal range and made “Beautiful” his own with a twist in the number.

The boys then came on as a whole group to sing three more songs, including singles “Tattoo (How ‘Bout You)” and “Tonight Belongs to You.”  They ended the concert with “The Show Goes On” By Lupe Fiasco, a fitting finale, as IRL hopes to continue their shows worldwide for a long time coming.  

“[My future career looks like a] world tour, baby,” Ramos told the Central Times.

Perez described the groups dynamics on traveling together on their first tour.

“We’ve been a group of a little over a year and it’s been amazing,” Perez said. “We’ve grown so close together. We know each other’s habits and when we record songs, we know our parts so we know each other really well.”

Tutton shares his favorite experiences while touring.

“I think the coolest thing is when you go to a city where you haven’t been before or you don’t hear about much, but there’s still people there to support you,” Tutton said.”That’s such a cool feeling and it opens up your eyes to how many people watched the show and how it impacted them.”

IRL looks forward to their first international tour, a two-week experience in the Philippines and then continuing on  to the Turks and Caicos afterward. IRL performs next at Minneapolis on Sept. 22 at Garage and wraps their current tour on Oct. 10 in Orlando.