From the Houston Rockets game to celebrity parties, Houston was the place to be Tuesday night as SZA and fans shook Warehouse Live to the ground.
The night started off with Ravyn Lenae, a curly, red headed jazzy R&B singer from Chicago with a big voice packed into a little body. Her charismatic performance made the audience fall in love with her as she preformed a couple of songs of her EPs’, Midnight Moonlight and Moon Shoes.
Smino followed shortly after, hyping the crowd up by asking where the 90’s babies were at, starting off with some songs from his album blkswn. His two backup singers wooed the crowd with hypnotic dances, slowly moving their hips and arms around to the beat as Smino sang, rapped, and even soulfully scatted perfectly, surprising everyone in the crowd. I knew the concert was going to be brilliant when he preformed his “Wild Irish Roses”, his band member sparking a blunt along with the crowd, matching his energy as we cheered with enthusiasm. He finished with a huge thanks to Houston, leaving the stage and being replaced by huge neon letters with greenery decorated on the insides spelling CTRL.
There had been complaints about SZA’s voice sounding, well, not exactly the same as it did on her album Z and even CTRL. So I waited with slight skepticism, silently hoping that she would hit all the notes expected and that her exaggeration of words while singing wouldn’t ruin the songs. A modern day supermodel herself, SZA blessed the stage a few minutes later, the crowd erupting into screams of joy as she performed the first song on her album, “Supermodel” followed by my favorite, “Broken Clocks”. I was instantly ashamed for even questioning her talent. Not only did she sound beautiful live, she also sung every improvised note perfectly.
After “Doves In The Wind”, SZA toyed with the crowd on the idea of love, and how easy it is to lose yourself trying to gain the approval of someone else. She shared a short story of how she learned her lesson one time at a party. To impress a guy she really liked, she brought a whole bunch of weed thinking it would make him happy. Heart full of hope, she went to the party in hopes of creating a moment with him. What she got instead was a broken heart as she saw him come in with another girl. The good part, she concluded, was that she smoked all the weed instead and had the time of her life with her friends, the beat for “Drew Barrymore” blending along with her airy vocals. She followed up with another one of my other favorites, a red solo cup in her hand as she swayed while singing “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”.
SZA had tweeted before hand how the Houston show was going to be extra special, providing a list of items fans could bring to the show in order to help Harvey victims. Each person who donated was also entered into a raffle where the winner would go party with SZA and her crew for the rest of the night after the show was over. SZA took the time in between songs to talk to the crowd, asking how we were after performing “Go Gina”, and asking if we were enjoying the concert so far. After “Prom”, she casually asked if anyone in the crowd was popular in high school. Hands shot up quickly as if to gain her favor in which she playfully snapped at everyone to put their hands down because it was a trick question. She went on to explain about how she wasn’t a “cool kid” at all, and that it made her want to be someone she wasn’t just to fit in. Dedicating the song to being yourself, she sang “Normal Girl”, crooning soulfully about how she wished she was the type of girl you could take home to mama. She thanked the crowd for taking the time to come and support her and that it meant the world before throwing it way back with “Hi Power” and “Childs Play”.
“Love Galore” was an instant hit that captured everyones attention when it dropped. The sultry music video and Travis Scott’s deep mumbles had taken over the radio for a while now, so it was no surprise at how the crowd screamed with excitement as she began to sing the beginning melodies. What we had not expected however, was Travis Scott himself walking on stage. Instantly people began to shove, the flashes from their phones creating a sea of light throughout the crowd. Known for starting a riot wherever he preformed, everyone started jumping along to the chorus and Travis’ part, the energy static as every single person in the room sang along word for word.
She dedicated “20 Something” to all the confused 20 something year olds in the crowd, before wrapping up the show with another popular hit, “The Weekend” followed by a heartfelt speech about how everyone was thinking of Houston due to the tragic hurricane that affected thousands. To show her appreciation of everyone who had come out, she announced that every single dollar spent on tickets and merchandise was going back to the Houston community to help aide in relief.
There’s something about seeing artist who genuinely care about their fans that stirs a sense of respect from me. Earlier while we waited outside for the concert to start in Houston’s muggy humidity, SZA came out from her bus and greeted everyone on her way inside. Not only did she take the time to say hi to as many people as she could instead of just zooming by, but she also came to me and my two friends and gave us a hug to show her gratitude for coming out. Needless to say, I was grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the night.
If you haven’t had a chance to see SZA preform live, my advice is to do so whenever you possibly can. Her humbleness and kind heart shine through when she’s on stage. From showing off her gymnastic moves and taking mini dance breaks, to skipping around stage and connecting with the audience by talking to fans about her experiences and listening to theirs. Listen to CTRL on iTunes and Spotify.