On Sunday night, the New Zealand pop singer, Lorde, brought her Melodrama spectacle to Washington D.C.’s Anthem. The show was her tour’s only non-arena leg as the Washington Wizard’s held court at the Capitol One Arena. While the Anthem is not to be considered small, Lorde and her two openers, Run The Jewels and Mitski, lavished in the opportunity to make eye contact with the crowd.
Mitski, the smallest act of the three, played a short set. Most of the crowd was unfamiliar with her. The venue drowned her out, not the concert-goers themselves, but Mitski was given no assistance from the engineers on the soundboards.
Run The Jewels gained considerable momentum as an act that could fill the Anthem on their own.
El-P and Killer Mike have been a duo for a five years and working together for seven. I caught them on the RTJ3 tour last January and they brought the house down with sheer bombasity. Still RTJ, as an opener, brought the heat. Killer Mike is feeling himself as a performer shaking around his considerable mass. El-P, a down trodden Brooklynite, has found joy rocking crowds. (RTJ brought out the singer BOOTS for the song “2100,” to little reaction for a guy who wrote half of Beyonce’s 2013 self-titled album.)
About 30 minutes after RTJ’s fist and finger gun deflated, Lorde emerged from the fog in a white light to “Sober,” with six back-up dancers.
If you’ve read or seen any interview with Lorde, she’ll inevitably bring up the fact that she has synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a sensational phenomenon where one sense evokes another. In terms of Lorde’s case, sounds create colors.
Lorde described Melodrama as a story of bodies and colors smashing into themselves during one graceless night. Between the frontstage and the backing band, a glass cage emerged as its pulley lifted dancers and Lorde herself up in the air. Lights flashed magentas, turquoises, oranges and greens (duh.) merging the singer’s senses with our own.
Another detail about Lorde you always notice is that she’s young. There have been plenty of pop prodigies throughout the history, but Lorde writes lyrics on a caliber rarely heard from veterans. She was signed as a teenager and made her breakthrough at 17.
Apart from her next-level talent, she’s only 21. Her presence lets that be known and she confidently knows it. The dancers had intricate choreography, but the singer chose when she’s joined her backup dancers’ movements. If she has to sing, she’s going to sing and she’s been known as an singular dancer for a while now.
Her stage presence and demeanor show that this is overwhelming, but we know she feels that way. It’s not nervousness, but giddiness, but it removes the tone of some of her somber works.
Nearing the end of the show, the music slowed for three songs where Lorde took a seat in the center of a semicircle made up of what appeared to flourescent lightbulbs you’d find in a corporate office. She made banter and jokingly, ordered a single malt on ice, which she did actually received from a bartender. This part of the show was for two of Melodrama’s most cutting songs, “Writer in The Dark,” and “Liability,” plus a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Solo.” These songs could make you sob, but instead her jovial nature cut them like the ice in her whiskey cup.
The show’s final three numbers were reserved for her biggest hits. “Royals,” is the singer’s most known work, but her most overrated. For non-radio listeners to take her seriously, it was not the proper introduction. That song was followed by “Perfect Places,” the strongest song off Melodrama. It was a fantastic sing-a-long, but lacked some oomph.
She saved her energy for the last number, Melodrama’s lead single, “Green Light.” Lorde begged the audience to go crazy with her and that we did. Clearly exhausted after performing for 90 minutes, the singer sung and shook her body with such voracity that the room went into a frenzy. Star-shaped confetti shot with tiny messages like “Melodrama forever” and “Just another graceless night,” printed on to them into the crowd.
Lorde writes and performs about the most visceral of emotions. Her live show wraps you in those hard feelings. The sounds, colors and, most of all, intensity of the Melodrama envelope you in her synaesthesia.
Two Non-Lorde Notes:
- Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy (7/10): In a year where every up-and-coming rappers debut album feels like a check off a record label’s meeting agenda, it’s refreshing for Cardi B to deliver a start-to-finish testament to her hustle. Comparable to Migos’ C U L T U R E, Cardi is more than the hit single “Bodak Yellow,” with a spectrum of styles of rap like trap (“Money Bag”), pop-rap (“Be Careful”), salsa-rap (“I Like It”) and posi-rap (“Best Life”). Cardi demands attention and she deserves it after grinding this hard and this well. Best Track: “I Like It” (featuring Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
- Drake’s “Nice for What”: Drake can’t lose. Aubrey becomes New Orleans bounce Drake like he’s been missing for a year and not currently number one on the Billboard charts. Now, he’s woke with a video featuring women like Olivia Wilde, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae and other in frames of clout. It’s a response to Charli XCX’s “Boys” video which put famous men in the ludicrous positions women are placed in music videos. An incredible song, Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor” serves as the core sample for “Nice for What” with Kid Capri-like shoutouts from Bounce legend Big Freedia. The song of the summer contenders spring their heads in April.