How long into his first "Austin City Limits" taping does it take for Khalid to mention El Paso?
"This next one goes out to El Paso," is the second thing the singer says to, what might appear to be, a kind of nonsensical crowd.
Eleven-or-so-year-old boys flossing in the front row before the show starts, several blobs of teenage girls, a scattering of 20-somethings and more and older still. All eyes were on the Grammy-nominated singer as he launched into anthem "American Teen," that begins, "Living a good life full of good vibes."
Khalid is 20. He drinks only water on stage and brings the mic to his mouth when he laughs. He takes these giant jumps around the stage instead of dancing, and directs his band's heavy instrumentals like a waterbender.
He is always, always smiling. He doesn't sound young when he speaks, and he doesn't sing young either.
He's talented, congenial and reminds himself throughout the show just how "crazy it is to be here" and how "crazy" it is that a song he's about to sing is in Billboard's Top 40.
He sings favorites like "Another Sad Love Song," "Coaster" and "Saved" to a chorus of crowd-supplied background vocals.
After he begins a story (without a hint of irony) "I can remember when I was young..." and is met by rippled laughter, he carries on unfazed.
At 20, he's a little more seasoned and a little less "American Teen," but the self-seriousness that comes with being young and very sincerely present in your circumstances, the earnest self-reflection like that in "Young, Dumb and Broke," -- that's all still there.
The story is about a Soundcloud beef that inspired him to "write another song, and write another song, and another... and now I'm here."
By the time he finishes closer "OTW," the crowd makes total sense: Everyone loves Khalid.
And just like the dusty, Texas town he's chosen to champion, he's bringing us along to share in just how "crazy" this all is.