Billie Eilish’s dark silhouette appeared on stage amid the shrill screams of thousands of fans Saturday night. The 17-year-old’s signature blue hair was done up in two space buns and, like usual, she sported an androgynous, oversized outfit: big black shorts, a black jacket and a graphic tee.
The crowd didn’t know it yet, but her printed T-shirt — featuring cherubs surrounded by flames — would serve as a metaphor for the entire show.
It's hard to believe that Eilish played at the 7th Street Entry just last year. Since then, she has gone mainstream, amassing millions of fans. It’s not hard to see why. Eilish’s music transcends traditional genres. Sometimes referred to as anti-pop, it is a melange of intense electro-pop and whispery, dark ballads.
Joined on stage by a drummer and her song-writing partner and brother Finneas O'Connell (FINNEAS) on bass and keys, Eilish began the show with one of her bangers, “bad guy,” which instantly had the crowd jumping to the beat. The energy was soon topped by the earth-shattering refrain of “you should see me in a crown.” The deep bass was much better consumed inside an arena than through headphones.
With the maturity of someone well beyond her years, Eilish’s voice was drenched in sweetness during the slower ballads “idontwannabeyouanymore,” a track from from her first release; the dreamy, super-slow “listen before i go;” and a heartfelt rendition of “xanny.” She consistently proved that she has control of her voice.
Even more impressive was Eilish’s ability to switch her persona at the snap of a finger. This was best demonstrated in “COPYCAT.” Eilish’s voice during the verses — innocent and lovely — immediately became dark and intensified at the chorus’ first beat drop.
Her aura of maturity was interrupted only during the few times she conversed with the crowd, once yelling, “Dude, my fucking shin splints are acting up. Do you know how annoying that is?” followed by, “It’s hot as fuck in here, oh my god.” Yet, her teenage relatability made her all the more likable.
Behind Eilish were three large screens displaying images only nightmares could conjure: giant spiders, Slender Man-looking figures, ink pouring from her eyes and mouth, and, during the freaky hit, “bury a friend,” a corpse crawling towards the audience. However, this did not seem to deter the excitement of her youngest fans, some of whom had their own blue-dyed locks.
Juxtaposed with Eilish’s nightmare-fantasy were a few sappy moments. During “listen before i go,” Eilish sat on the stage before an image of a sunset. One of the final songs, “i love you,” was a duet with FINNEAS on a full-sized bed — a recreation of the night they wrote it.
Before she parted, Eilish had some final advice for her fans: “Whether tonight is one of the best nights of your life or the worst you have ever had, live in that feeling.”
Wise words from the girl who knows how to do it best.