Keeping true to her artistically-esoteric side, Billie Eilish entered the Capital One Arena with surprise.
On a stage consumed by white light, Eilish bounced up from a trap door. How she did it? We can only thank her genius. Experiencing this woman’s music and her fandom can only be described as a cosmic voyage through modern pop music.
Billie’s “Happier Than Ever” Tour kicked off at the beginning of February and D.C. is her latest stop in a series of nearly 30 cities throughout North America. Both harmonically and thematically, “Happier Than Ever” serves as the resolve to some of the darker subjects explored in Eilish’s first studio album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”
From a performance perspective, I was curious to see how the show’s set list would compensate for the notable stylistic and compositional shifts between the two albums.
The suave blend of Finneas’ live instrumentals with electronic synth produced an energetic aura that helped bring Billie’s vocals to the next level. The show evenly combined both of Eilish’s albums, starting with “Bury a Friend” and “I Didn’t Change” as the openers. Frontloading these arguably darker ballads in the beginning of the set created an emphatic opening for including “Goldwing” and “Halley’s Comet,” Billie’s more vulnerable lyrical tunes on “Happier Than Ever.”
To the crowd’s avail, Billie’s visuals were a synesthetic aid for each of her songs. More or less, the visuals maintained a tasteful monochromatic scheme that corresponded to the central feelings of the song— whether that be anger, empowerment or acceptance. While “Therefore I Am” and “My Strange Addiction” corresponded with deep red hues, Eilish sang “Billie Bossa Nova” over a rose gold hue, matching the softness of her sound and the sultriness of the lyrics.
It’s difficult to selectively comment on the performance of an artist who’s loved by billions all over the world, but there’s something to be said about the intergenerational crowd Billie attracts to her concerts. Way up in the nose-bleeds, I was positioned to see everyone but Billie. While the stadium was not 100% full (in accordance with Covid-19 safety protocols), people of all walks of life came to absorb this young artist’s angelic voice.
What I definitely could observe from my seemingly disadvantageous seat is when Billie sang “Bad Guy,” parents danced with their children, soft-goth teens danced with soft-goth teens, Gen X knew the lyrics and I was just enjoying myself. The cacophonous unison of Billie’s fandom is exactly what makes her so special as an artist: She’s one of the few Gen Z creatives with an ability to enthrall intergenerational audiences.
The artist’s Capital One performance only affirms what we already knew: Eilish’s evolving contribution to contemporary sound, experimental lyricism and youth culture affirms her place as the enigmatic musical sensation that she is.