“What’s going on? Why are there so many people here?”
Customers from the club next door to the Echostage were staring at the long line of excited fans in awe. Doors opened at 8 p.m. but already the line had stretched far from the entrance by 7 p.m. Young girls with curled hair and dark lipstick, emulating their beloved headlining act, chatted excitedly about their favorite songs as their parents looked on eagerly, the enthusiasm spreading. College students, working adults, grade school kids, and everyone in between were impatiently waiting in line, ready to sprint to the front as soon as the doors opened.
The sold-out D.C. show on March 7 was one of many on Lorde’s successful first North American tour. With her runaway pop hit “Royals”, platinum debut album, and Grammy wins – all in the span of a couple of years – the singer from New Zealand has been gaining legions of fans and lots of fame. Lorde has become an international music sensation for good reason: her music is not only interesting but also enjoyable and her talent is genuine and hard-earned.
Lo-Fang, the opening act handpicked by the young singer herself, was pleasant yet unremarkable. The performance looked promising with the frontman switching easily from electric guitar to violin, mixing skillful pizzicato with an electronic backdrop. Unfortunately, the delivery was unconvincing, the vocals were breathy and fell within a three-note range that occasionally ventured into a timid falsetto, and the performance was overall not engaging. Audience members continued to talk loudly as the band played in the back, clapping politely once the set finished.
Once Lorde was on stage, a chorus of frenzied screams and frantic phones trying to capture the moment broke out as she began with the ominous and powerful “Glory and Gore”. The stage was set up with a large digital screen that looked like an ornate blank frame and lights that looked like large wax candles; it felt like the setting to a spiritual meeting and Lorde was there to lead the rituals. Her connection with the audience and with her music was unbreakable and she sang with such conviction and style that it was easy to forget that she is still 17-years-old and debuted just two years ago. But she was at home on the stage, dancing and singing with every inch of her soul.
“Tennis Court” was a crowd pleaser, the audience singing along with Lorde’s on point vocals. “White Teeth Teens” was fun and energetic, the marching band percussions complementing Lorde’s punchy vocals. She sang the entirety of her debut album “Pure Heroine” along with some songs from her first EP, “The Love Club”. Before singing “Ribs”, she talked about the inspiration for the song, saying, “I wrote a song to feel less freaked out about this situation”, referring to her ambivalence of growing up and getting older. It was a song everyone could relate to and the soothing tempo added to the cathartic effect.
In the middle of “Team”, she went offstage to change from her all-black outfit into a flowing, gold gown, returning to close the show with “A World Alone”. Looking every bit like royalty, she graciously ended the show to confetti streaming from the air. Lorde has now solidified her place in music history, proving that not only can she release a stellar album but she can also give a fantastic, memorable performance.