Did you ever imagine you would have a hard time holding people’s attention? I mean, you aren’t exactly an average pop star, and that burst in popularity in the last year must have freaked you out some. Of course, it also proves that your appeal isn’t only to outsiders, but to all kinds of people. Pure Heroine has seen great success since September, and you sold out the soon-to-be-shuttered Roseland Ballroom three nights in a row. (How cool is that?)
Though there were many fans in the audience for your final night in New York on Wednesday, there were also a lot of people who had, um, more important things on their minds. From what I could tell, audience members ranged in age from as young as three to at least 60. Some people are so old, it’s hard to tell. One dedicated preteen wore a handmade neon T-shirt with your stage name written in Sharpie across the front. Others carried on casual conversations through most of your set. I wondered if it bothered you, but then I realized you probably couldn’t hear them talking and talking and talking and not paying attention. It bothered me, though.
When you started the show with a solo performance of “Glory and Gore” wearing that eerie black outfit, under an intense white light that shot down from the ceiling, I was so excited I almost cried. Then a curtain dropped to reveal your backup band: two guys dressed in white; one at a drum set, the other at a keyboard/synthesizer. After the next song, you casually admitted in a raspy voice that you were feeling under the weather and took a sip of tea. If you hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have known. You used loops of studio harmonies, but your haunting live vocals hit me hard, and I was standing all the way back in the front of the mezzanine.
The stage was set up pretty simply, but the lighting was elaborate, bright colors, strobe lights, flashing purple bars, a spinning disco ball thingie, and projections of videos and live shots of you and your band. The backgrounds added to the atmosphere, like the view from a car window driving through the suburbs during “400 Lux,” one of my favorites.
A problem began after the show’s halfway point, when you sang Son Lux’s “Easy,” with lots of creepy (fabulous!) dancing and not much singing. It was an opportunity for people’s voices to fill the room instead of the music itself, and there were, like, three false starts at applause before the song actually ended.
The most intimate part of the show came soon after, when you explained the story behind “Ribs,” which I think is your best song. You told the audience you find it “kind of weird” to talk about your songs, and then you did it anyway, which was brave. You told us about a party you threw while your parents were out of town. “Shit got broken,” you said. “My best friend Zach and I crashed in the same bed. I was lying there for a long time not sleeping.” He asked you what was wrong. You said you were scared of the adult world, and can you go back to being a kid. “That still scares me all the fucking time,” you said. “It keeps me up all the time — the things you gain and lose.” You said you wrote the song on a Monday. Then you said that when you write songs you can see them in your head, and this one was a greenish blue. “It makes me indescribably happy to see 3,000 people here, many who are my age. You’re here because you get it, and I’m so thankful,” you said, like you were talking to me.
So while you and I were trying to have a moment, about life and being 17 and afraid, the people around me were laughing, talking, and not listening! I wanted to give you a hug.
The remixed versions of the night’s last songs recaptured the chit-chatters’ attention. The words to your single, “Royals,” echoed off the peeling-painted walls of the venue, and everyone was singing every word. There was even a dramatic outfit change into a shining gold cape and dress, for a finale with confetti and strobe lights.
I was so happy and sad I cried a little on the train home. I miss you!
Glory and Gore
White Teeth Teens
A World Alone
p.s.: Better Than: Orange juice. You sing, “You buy me orange juice,” in “400 Lux.” I’ve been obsessively drinking orange juice ever since.
Overheard: Too much.
Annabel Finkel is 16 years old and lives in Maplewood, New Jersey. She loves Lorde.