Billie Eilish Triumphantly Returns Home With A Sold-Out Three Show Stint Check out photos from the 2nd Performance At The Shrine!
LOS ANGELES, CA- Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve heard of the 17-year-old, wunderkind recording artist Billie Eilish. Her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (released March 29, 2019) not only set some amazing benchmarks (streamed over 2 billion times, and had more songs in the Top 100 for a female artist ever) but also has redefined the pop music landscape and the aesthetics of the culture around it.
It’s an amazing thing to be a witness to the evolution of an artist like Billie. Two years ago, I attended an intimate showcase for her at the L.A. pop-up venue NoName, and just last year she was performing in a church at SXSW. Now, she had three consecutive sold-out nights at some of the largest concert venues in Los Angeles (two shows at the Shrine Expo Hall with a capacity of 6,300, and one show at The Greek with a capacity of 5,870). I always anticipated that Billie Eilish would find her niche in music, but I would be lying if I said expected her to rise to the levels that she’s at so quickly. In 2018 she sold out three nights at The Fonda. What’s next? Three sold-out nights at the Staples Center in 2020? It wouldn’t surprise me.
I think that for Billie it was the perfect storm of amazing music, earnest humility and social media activity that captured the minds of the current generation. Her music, while thematically dark and poignant, is tempered by the artist’s well-documented vulnerabilities, and that makes her, as an artist, a jillion times more accessible to connect with. In an extremely well-written interview piece by Rolling Stone magazine that was published today, her fans get an even deeper look into her life and a clearer picture of what makes her tick and what inspires her art.
The show kicked off with a rousing performance by Atlanta, GA based duo of Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot), collectively known as EarthGang. They were a last-minute sub for the original opening act, Denzel Curry, who had injured his leg a few nights earlier. EarthGang had previously opened up for Billie on the second leg of her 1 by 1 Tour in 2018, so I guess you could say that this was a bit of a reunion for everybody.
EarthGang has been dropping music since 2010, and I’ve had my finger on their pulse for a minute. Not only because they are the co-founders of the musical collective Spillage Village (the collective that has spawned acts like J.I.D and 6LACK) and are currently signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, but because they’ve got that funky southern flare that I’m extremely partial to embedded in their sound.
It’s hard not to draw the comparisons to the most famous Atlanta hip hop duo Outkast, but it’s hard to avoid when Jonny Venus and Doctur Dot are spitting Andre 3000 type flows with Big Boi type clarity. But comparison aside, these guys know how to turn up and get a party started right, and they did so this evening. Fantastic energy. Great stage dynamic.
EarthGang will be touring internationally starting in September, and their first Dreamville album Mirrorland hasn’t dropped yet, so I guess we’ll have to wait for the new music to come out before they are back in L.A. anytime soon.
Following EarthGang’s energetic performance, the house lights dimmed and the crowd erupted into unrestrained cheers, ready to have their senses feast on Ms. Eilish’s show. Billie, her brother Finneas and Andrew Marshall (drums) took us on 90+ minute musical manifestation of all the feels embodied in When We All Fall Asleep. As soon as she stepped onto the stage with a huge, gothic, anime-esque projection of her nightmare filling up the entirety of the LED screen behind her, the cheers from the audience were deafening.
With only one full-length album and one EP to her name, the odds were good that you would see most, if not all, of your favorite Billie Eilish songs performed. From the opening drum beats of the thumper of a track “bad guy” to the appropriately placed outro of “goodbye”, Billie had the sold-out room feeding out of her 17-year-old hands.
You could get the sense of how much she commanded the room by the way the audience reacted to every song. Often times, when rooms sing-a-long with the artist, it can be particularly unenjoyable. But that wasn’t the case on this night. The voices from the crowd almost served as an additional instrument, actually complimenting the overall concert experience. Often times, we complain about sing-a-longs obscuring the actual audio of the singer, but that didn’t happen in this instant.
Even with thousands of voices joining Billie on most of her songs, the crowd sang along in the same kind of hushed tone that Billie sings with. It was as if everyone was on the same page of wanting to hear Billie’s voice but also wanted to participate in the experience. Hushed passages were hushed. Energetic chants were hyped. It was a real-life surround sound.
Visually, the performance was spectacular. The stage production, with the clean lighting effects and full use of the mysterious imagery/video on the large LED screen, was classy and polished. The use of dancers on songs like “idontwannabe youanymore” gave Billie a chance to really strut her dancing abilities. The theatricality of Billie and Finneas lifted hoisted into the air on a bed for “I Love You” was striking. Even Billie sitting on a stool center-stage to croon a ballad added another dimension to the overall performance. It was truly a complete package and an amazingly far leap from those early shows that I attended.
The 2 show stint at the Shrine Expo Hall was particularly meaningful for the youthful chanteuse. Towards the end of her top-charting set, she told the crowd that this was the venue where she attended her first concert (which happened to be The Neighborhood in 2015), pointing to the area of the room where she remembered watching the show and watching her come full circle with a triumphant return home is just another chapter of her career that I feel especially privileged to bear witness to.
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