Halsey. You probably already know her either as the girl who sings the song about Biggie, Nirvana, and legal marijuana, or maybe the one with the hair that changes length and color every five seconds. However you know of Halsey, you do know her- and that was something I should have kept in my mind going into her sold-out show this past Thursday, November 12th at Showbox Sodo.
I get a little hipster about Halsey. I followed her on Twitter when she had around 5,000 followers and was still Ashley Frangipane. I witnessed her transform into Halsey, and because of that I always forget how big she is now. (I just checked and she currently has almost a million Twitter followers… What.) I always think of her as the girl posting 5 Seconds of Summer covers on YouTube, but now she is the woman who just sold out Madison Square Garden in less than three weeks with no support announced as of yet.
Planning to arrive around 2:00pm to ensure a close spot due to her huge increase in fame status over the past few months, my plans were destroyed by the rain. Was I really that surprised? I live in Seattle. I ended up at the venue around 5:45pm, dressed in about four layers to help survive the elements for the next two hours before doors opened. Those two hours were two excruciatingly long ones, as the line was more than two blocks long at that point, and we were all standing in 45 degree weather in a steady drizzle. After experiencing the wet cold for an hour I had to get inside, taking refuge at the nearby Krispy Kreme for about 30 minutes. I got a dozen donuts and then went back outside, and to my delight, the line was beginning to move.
I got inside the venue around 8:10, and secured a spot a solid 10 rows back. Luckily for me, Halsey’s entire fan base is even younger than I am, therefore they are all mostly smaller than I am. (Note: I am 5’2”, 5’4” in the shoes I was wearing.) I had a clear shot to the stage from 10 rows back despite how vertically challenged I am, and I hope that gives you a very clear image of the crowd that night. If it doesn’t, I am 18 and I was on the older side of the spectrum of her fans. I went over to merch in hopes of buying a shirt, and the opener, Flor, came on stage as I was in line around 8:15pm. I had never seen a band come on so early after doors had opened. I ran back to my spot, and enjoyed the space to move and dance around I had while I had it. I had listened to Flor previously a few times, and their live show is arguably better than their recordings. Their music reminded me of BØRNS and Passion Pit, and the entire crowd was bopping along. Flor played about 6 or 7 songs and was off the stage by 8:45.
This is where things started to go awry. As Flor was leaving, the entire back section of the crowd surged forward, compressing my tiny body into an area I didn’t know I could fit into. And they never moved back. From the middle section of the crowd to the barrier, we were stuck together like one giant mass of human for over 30 minutes. It got to the point that I lifted my feet off the floor and I was still standing up. I hope you understand how crowded we were inside the venue. I’ve never experienced space like Thursday night, and I’ve seen the Arctic Monkeys in a 1,000 person venue post-AM. That’s the only concert that is even slightly comparable to the squeeze I was succumbed to. Eventually her tour manager Sheppard came on stage and told everyone to move back, and the level of squish eased a fraction of a bit.
As soon as the lights went down for Ms. Frangipane herself at 9:30, it was on. The first notes of “Gasoline” pierced the room and it was like it was a signal for the back of the room to take 50 steps forward. I’ve never been so crowded in my entire existence, but I was still able to see a full view of the stage. Halsey came out of the darkness in a white high-low long sleeve thermal crop top, ripped black jeans, and her current cotton candy pink pixie cut. I wasn’t expecting her to open with this track, but in retrospect I was so satisfied that she did. The entire crowd knew every word, but the song wasn’t so intense that it forced her pre-teen fanbase to destroy Showbox Sodo in its entirety. She immediately moved into “Hold Me Down” and then “Castle”, two of my favorite tracks on her record, Badlands. She has such a stage presence despite her petite frame, and her voice shook the venue with every pitch change.
I was starting to feel on the verge of passing out due to how hot I was getting and claustrophobia, so I focused on just listening to her sing and watching the lights for the next few songs. At some point during which she broke her finger, but I, along with everyone else I was with, didn’t actually see, but she paused the show for about a minute to tape it back up. She also took the time to tell everyone to “Stop trying to kill each other” or else she would stop performing. Afterwards she continued singing like the true badass champ she is. “Strange Love” was a song that wasn’t my favorite on the album, but I fell in love with it live- strange right? “Control” was of the same- one of my favorites on the record, and it didn’t disappoint. Halsey was down to her bra and jeans at this point, and “Control” proved to be just cripplingly disturbing live, in a way only Halsey can make enjoyable.
Another awe-inspiring moment was the “Ghost” prelude where she asked us to sing the chorus, and the entire crowd sang the hook as well as the entire first verse in perfect tune. I also thoroughly enjoyed “Colors Pt. 2”, the Lido produced masterpiece she played prior to “Colors” during the show. I’ve seen Halsey before earlier this summer when she opened for Imagine Dragons on the Smoke & Mirrors tour, so I had already heard her play “Hurricane”, but this time around it seemed brand new. Her command of the song and the stage really came together on this track, and I was entirely heart eye emoji at this point. She ended the set with “New Americana”, her radio hit that features extremely Seattle things. She prefaced the tune with, “Were you raised on Nirvana? Well boy do I have the song for you…” and very shortly after confetti cannons were going off, raining down “Badlands Bucks” with her face on it.
She came back to sing “Young God” in the encore, another one that I wasn’t particularly fond of on the album but completely fell in love with live. She kind of deconstructed the song live, and it was jaw dropping in combination with the crowd knowing every word. After the show ended I hung around for about 30 minutes after trying to meet her again (I met her during her Charlotte, NC show with Imagine Dragons), and she did end up coming out for about two minutes. She took pictures with a couple of fans that weren’t me before her security guard whisked her away into the tour bus. Despite the crowd overload and minimal time with fans afterward, Halsey put on an incredible show. Halsey was injected into the limelight almost as soon as she put out her first single, and she’s grown accustomed to the fame status on stage, while still remaining who she was when she wasn’t her moniker off stage.
ANNA KAPLAN | Freshly Squeezed | KXSU Reporter