Throughout the entirety of Lizzo’s show Friday night at the Majestic Theatre, the audience level was never less than a booming rumble, with the exception of one moment. “Where are all the Big Grrrls?” Lizzo yelled mid-show to preface her song “B.G.S.W.” A portion of the audience shyly clapped and a couple of people hollered, but there was a slight lull in the crowd’s energy. “I don’t just mean big in stature. Big isn’t just physical,” Lizzo explained. “You can be big in what you believe, who you are, your personality, your style.” The crowd went back to a full eruption. These words, and her entire performance, were a welcome reassurance in a world where both individuals and entire groups of people are frequently told to be sorry for the space they occupy, physically and otherwise.
It was clear from the moment she walked onstage that this night would be a creative, contagious ode to self-love. Hot off the release of her album Big Grrrl Small World in December, her performance was transformative, and the message was clear: Lizzo isn’t apologizing for who she is, and neither should you.
Madison’s own ME eN YOU took the stage first to kick off the good vibes and celebration. With their large ensemble and playful lyrics, their performance felt like more of a thought-provoking party than a show. The crowd grew as alt-rap duo Cavanaugh, composed of rappers Open Mike Eagle and Serengeti, performed witty conceptual pieces to experimental electronica hip-hop beats.
Anticipation was building among the crowd that mingled restlessly after the openers. But if there was a single inattentive member of the audience, that was quickly remedied by the only known sound (probably) that has the power to double the human heart rate in seconds: the opening notes to Beyoncé’s “Formation.” DJ Sophia Eris was onstage and ready to slay.
After warming up an already-jazzed crowd even further, Eris remained onstage, but was now joined by the mind-numbing presence of Lizzo and her incredible backup dancers, “Big Grrrls” Jessi Williams and Grace Holden. The duo may have been backup dancers, but they did more than just blend into the background. Throughout the whole night, they performed complex modern hip-hop choreography, ranging from enchanting chair work to a full-on, ass-shaking drop into the splits at the end of an insane dance solo to Shamir’s “On the Regular.”
With all that talent and “Grrrl” Power taking over the night, it was legitimately impossible not to dance and smile and just feel good about yourself. When Lizzo performed “En Love,” the tag of which repeats “I think I’m in love…WITH MYSELF,” I was fairly certain the sturdy walls of the Majestic would burst from the enthusiastic booty-shaking of a sea of confident women.
So, yes, Lizzo sings like a powerful angel and effortlessly raps...anything else? Yep, turns out she also has mad flute skills. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my jaw has uncontrollably dropped due to the sheer talent of another human being, but watching Lizzo solo on that flute definitely takes the cake.
In tandem with the sheer talent on the stage, Lizzo’s extremely successful performance boiled down to one thing: the complete genuine nature of everything she did. She’s a flawless example of uplifting activism through arts. A teary-eyed Lizzo introduced the song “My Skin,” the emotional highlight of the evening, by explaining that the day had been really tough for her. But, she says the energy and love from the crowd was the reason she performed. She opened the ballad by sampling a slowed-down chorus from Beyoncé’s “Flawless,” a homage to the importance of sharing your acceptance of yourself, your body and your skin to inspire that love in others. After a number of hair-raising belts, she closed the song tenderly singing “My life matters” and “Black Lives Matter.” Through song, Lizzo had taken her moving personal narrative of acceptance and love and effectively inserted it into the context of an entire movement.
During the show, Lizzo promised “hugs and kisses” to the crowd after the show, and she truly kept that promise. Despite a full-energy performance on every possible level, she stayed after to hug every fan that waited, making sure to tell each one how beautiful they really are. The entire experience was so powerful and so beautiful, I honestly didn’t see a single eye left dry.