At this point, Ivan Cornejo is no stranger to Chicago. By now, he’s performed four times in this city in a span of three months: an official Lollapalooza aftershow (Aug. 4), Lolla (Aug. 5), then again Thursday (Nov. 16) and Friday (Nov. 17) as part of his Terapia Tour. The trek marks his biggest and most ambitious outing yet in the U.S.
“¿Cómo andamos Chicago? (How are we doing, Chicago?)” he asked at the top of his nearly two-hour set at the Aragon Ballroom on Friday, the second of his back-to-back sold-out shows. The response? A roaring crowd that welcomed the 19-year-old back to the Midwest. Wearing dark grey slacks and a silk, beige-hued shirt, Cornejo looked the part of a therapist. Even at the beginning, a voice welcomed those Cornejo’s loyal fanbase to their therapy session. “Take a deep breathe in, your session has begun.”
The emotions were palpable throughout the night. Those in attendance — from kids who were accompanied by their parents to groups of teenagers — didn’t hold back and sang every single song on Cornejo’s set at the top of their lungs.
The 31-city tour finds the 19-year-old Mexican American artist — wise beyond his years — connecting with his equally young fanbase who felt deeply his lyrics about heartbreak. Some were brought to tears. It’s the effect Cornejo’s evocative delivery has on his fanbase. Singing with such pathos, Cornejo tugs at your heartstrings with nostalgic and melancholic songs about love and loss, powered by prickly acoustic and electronic guitars. As a collective, Cornejo and his fans heal each other.
While often boxed into the regional Mexican genre, Cornejo goes beyond that style. More precisely described as alt-música mexicana, the California-born artist serenaded fans singing his sad sierreño anthems “Me Hiciste Un Loco,” “Está Dañada,” “Estás En Mi Pasado” and “Perro Abandonado,” which he said he wrote when he was going through a heartbreak.
“I was really hurt when I wrote this song. I felt really lost but more than anything, I felt like a perro abandonado (abandoned dog).”
He also sang a medley of covers, including the Plain White T’s track “Hey There Delilah,” Jesse & Joy’s “¡Corre!” and Dareyes De La Sierra’s “Hasta El Día de Hoy.” He closed with “Donde Estás,” the song that everyone was waiting for, literally fans would chant the title of the song throughout the show.
“Arriba la terapia,” he declared at the end, loosely translating to “long live therapy.”
Cornejo closes his Terapia Tour on Nov. 22 in Ontario, Calif.
In 2021, Cornejo topped Billboard‘s Latin Songwriters chart thanks to his hit “Está Dañada,” which then became only the second regional Mexican song to enter the Hot 100 tally. He won new artist of the year the 2022 Billboard Latin Music Awards and, he’s now up for top Latin album at the 2023 Billboard Music Awards for Dañado.