Willow’s Life Tour Brought Back The Life in Live Concerts

Karissa Schaefer ‘23 / Emertainment Monthly TV Section Editor

It seems as though everyone is back to doing rock music nowadays. From Miley Cyrus to Olivia Rodrigo, the resurgence is not going unnoticed—Willow included. For the Boston stop on her Life Tour featuring her new album “Lately I feel Everything,” Willow played at the Royale nightclub Oct. 13. 

The venue, not being an arena sized stadium, made the concert feel intimate and personal. Everyone was required to show proof of vaccination to enter, as well as a mask. Though trying to take precautionary measures against COVID, it didn’t stop the sweaty mosh pit from forming. Considering the rock music—not just from Willow, but her openers Kid Sistr and De’Wayne as well—it felt fitting and right for the moment. 

Native New Yorkers Kid Sistr played first, an indie trio of all women: Sara, the bassist; Sabel, the guitarist; and Rebecca, the drummer. If you haven’t heard them before, be sure to add them to your Spotify liked songs. Their performance of “Dallas,” slower than most of their songs, was particularly intriguing. The song just feels smooth, the instruments suiting the softness of their voices. There was a guitar solo at one point after a pause in the song, which let audiences realize just how much they’ve missed live music. Most audience members are likely unable to remember the last time they listened to a live girl band before this, but Kid Sistr brought a memorable performance.

Next up was Houston alternative rapper and singer De’Wayne. His 2021 debut album “Stains,” which translates the recorded studio versions of his songs to live versions, does not disappoint. His rock ‘n’ roll punk style is aggressive yet brilliant. When choosing a song, more often than not, it’s fun to pick something you can scream sing to, one that has life and vibrancy to it. This is emulated in De’Wayne’s performance. Songs he sang like “National Anthem” and “Super 8” had everyone in the audience headbanging. 

The two opening acts complemented Willow in the best way possible. Though she doesn’t have any songs with either of them, hopefully this can change in the future. However, someone she has collaborated with made a guest appearance in the middle of Willow’s set. Tyler Cole, who is the other half of the duo The Anxiety, performed a few songs from their 2020 debut album, including the hit “Meet Me At Our Spot.” The album doesn’t seem to stick to one particular genre, as throughout the 10 songs, there’s a lot of different sounds—a lot of good ones. The energy of the room immediately intensified as they performed their rock related songs. The crowd jumped back and forth to either side as they moshed, and all of a sudden, the tight spaces everyone stood in didn’t matter anymore. Fans cheer and dance at any concert, but there’s something about it being a rock concert that feels different and so much better. 

Willow’s set list was very familiar for casual fans of her music. She started with “transparentsoul,” the first lead single off her album. Travis Barker, who is featured on a few songs, may not have been there, but the audience left still feeling satisfied. The only thing that could’ve possibly made it better was a surprise guest appearance from Avril Lavigne, who is featured on “GROW,” in which Willow sang as a solo. 

While on stage, Willow did things that members of the audience undoubtedly appreciated or wanted to do. She smoked a joint in between songs, the smoke filling the air of colors from the stage lights. She took over the drumset to perform “F**K You,” a 36 second interlude, which was special considering she said she doesn’t usually do interludes on stage. Following that, she talked about just letting your emotions out in a small bit of rage—like playing an instrument or just screaming—and how therapeutic it can be. In fact, throughout her hour and a half performance, she thanked the audience for their support after every song. Audiences likely didn’t expect to be getting a motivational speech from the Willow Smith. She constantly reminded us how loved we are, how beautiful we are, etc., and although she doesn’t know any of us personally, it felt like she did. When she would explain some context and the meaning behind her songs, it felt very relatable and clearly resonated with the audience. Willow feels authentic not only while she sings, but as a person when she talks. 

Willow was hitting high notes left and right. At one point, all the instruments went silent and it was solely her voice creating all the magic on stage. She sang an acapella version of “Marceline” and graced us with the beauty of her raw voice. Another older song she sang was “Time Machine,” one of my personal favorites. It’s hard picking favorites, especially considering her new album has no skips. 

Willow got through most of her 11 song album, save maybe two or three. Excitement took over the audience when “Lipstick,” came on. Her songs are great, but leave more to be desired. If extended, listeners could bask in them a little bit longer. After her ‘last’ song, the audience was cheering for an encore. It felt like the concert was left unfinished and was missing something, and that something was “Wait a Minute!” It’s as though Willow read our minds and so she started up the song. By this point standing near the back of the venue was the perfect area to have more space to dance. Yet another song the audience knew every word to, one that still has a hold over many listeners, was a suitable end to my night. 

The venue doors opened at 7:00, with a long line going down the street and wrapping around the corner. Despite the wait, this show was worth every second and every penny. Willow didn’t even go on until 9:30, but it’s hard to be mad when Kid Sistr and De’Wayne had so much talent themselves. By the end of the night, everyone was drenched in sweat from singing, dancing, and the tight knit crowd. It’s hard to want it any other way.

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