If you’ve been paying attention to anything music-related this year, you may have watched R&B star, SZA, skyrocket into the spotlight following the release of her debut album, CTRL. This surge of success that started with the release of her hit single “Love Galore” ft. Travis Scott, had every long-time fan selfishly thinking "I love her but I wish I didn’t have to share her." This sentiment rang especially true when it came to buying tickets for the CTRL tour, announced this summer. The tickets for her show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta were sold out almost instantly and it was all but impossible to find a resell ticket that wasn’t three, four, or five times the original price. Atlanta was certainly more than excited to welcome SZA to its stage.
On Monday October 9th, the night at the Tabernacle kicked off with Ravyn Lenae, a tiny fire cracker with a red afro who brought a delightful blend of contemporary R&B and house music to the stage. Though still in her teens, the Chicago native sang soulfully with a level of maturity and composure well beyond her years. Not long after Lenae left the stage came St. Louis raised singer-rapper, Smino. A natural crowd pleaser, Smino aroused the audience with his funky style exhibited in songs like “blkswn” and “Netflix & Dusse”. However, things really kicked off when T-Pain made a surprise appearance and joined Smino on stage for a couple of songs. T-Pain’s enthusiasm got the crowd riled up and ready to see the highly anticipated headliner.
Just a few minutes before 10, SZA skipped out on to a minimally decorated stage, characteristically sporting a baggy tracksuit and huge copper colored hair. Her humble charisma and quirky charm were so commanding that there was no need for extravagance in any form. SZA kicked off the set with “Supermodel," the raw and candid ballad that appears as the first track on CTRL. The response from the crowd was deafening. She continued the night with other hits like “The Weekend” and “Broken Clocks." For a lot of the tracks, SZA strayed from the structure of the album a bit by changing the instrumental arrangement, but still made sure to stay true to her unique alternative R&B style. The crowd kept up and it seemed that everyone in the building knew all the words to every single song. Even when SZA threw in a few throwbacks from her last EP, Z, like “Hijack” and “Child’s Play”, the crowd didn’t let up.
No matter how many times I listen to CTRL, nothing can beat the experience of watching SZA performing it live. Upon entering the venue, I immediately felt the lively vibe that would come to dominate the entire evening. Many artists struggle to maintain the talent and energy that they are able to produce on a perfectly constructed album. SZA is not one of these artists. Even amidst technically difficulties, her vocals and performance were flawless and she never missed a beat. Throughout the night, the crowd responded to this effort with a palpable admiration. Clearly the feeling was mutual as SZA proclaimed “Thank you Atlanta for giving me by far the greatest energy I’ve felt on this tour so far.”
By: Adama Kamara, Staff Writer