March 6, 2023

SZA played Madison Square Garden (Night 2)

SZA played two sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden and even though night two features no guests, it still felt like a monumental event that signaled the arrival of a generational talent.

On her first headlining tour in half a decade and her first time headlining the biggest arenas in the country, SZA asserted herself as one of the biggest names in the game and one that everyone will be talking about for years to come. As the arena went dark and her incredible stage show took shape, it was clear that the production values alone would elevate the show to a level all her own. LED screens matched the wavvy album cover background of SOS before rising to reveal SZA herself on an elongated platform to replicate to put the final touch on the remake as she quickly dove in to her remarkable delivery that hit with such impressive immediacy that it knocked the wind out of the room. Instantly it was clear that the night would be an over the top experience that focused on immaculate production values, but was clearly enhanced by SZA's ability to control the show and call the shots. Delivering hit after hit, her flow remained flawless throughout the night and came across with more power and conviction live than it does on record, once again confirming her status as one of the best out there and once her dancers flocked to the stage to back up her busting moves, it was evident that this would truly be one for the ages. Each song felt natural and pure, her delivery really letting each track take the spotlight and never once giving the impression that she was waiting for the next hit to drop. Breaking the show up into several acts, the stage show matched her performance and while a massive LED screen floated up and down towards the front of the stage, it was consistently revealing astonishing backdrops like an entire boat, a massive anchor, and more that gave SZA free range to unveil ever impressive moments that demonstrated her elaborate care for production values and revealed her real admiration for creating something truly iconic. "Broken Clocks" into the Björk and Ol' Dirty Bastard sampling "Forgiveless" was an early highlight that spoke to yours truly and was later topped by the massive "All The Stars" into my humble favorite "Prom" which brought me to my knees in terms of pure excitement. Act Two continued to bring the rage with an incredible "F2F" which highlighted her near emo moment of pumped-up guitar which perfectly moved into the legendary "Drew Barrymore," another indispensable crowd favorite, before careening into "Doves in the Wind." For the next movement, SZA climbed into a life raft that lowered to the stage and rode it above the crowd as it floated above the floor of the arena as she serenaded the crowd in flowing, cheetoes-inspired gown that saw the room, naturally, descend into full-on fandom as the love erupted with new meaning and added enthusiasm. Watching her careen the crowd in such form will surely be the takeaway for most, fittingly as well since not too many pop stars are known to traverse the range of a venue while atop an inflatable device, and still, picking a particular song to highlight feel egregious as each one packed a punch that felt equally unexpected as it did essential. "Kill Bill" was a new move for the night as her dancers appeared behind screens while she delivered some killer karate moves that replicated the mood of the track and gave us a new vibe away from the nautical themes and received perhaps the loudest cheer from the crowd during the entire night.  "I Hate U" was another rousing sing-a-long moment, not that the rest of the night had any restraint, but as all of MSG stuck up their middle fingers, it resulted in the most cathartic moment of the night. Controlling a room of such stature is obviously not something every musician should attempt, but SZA delivered with such authority it was almost a wonder as to how this hasn't been her job for years. Still, being able to witness such an important event for such an essential artist isn't one that anyone in the building will soon forget and seeing her run back on stage after the house lights had turned on only cemented that the moment hadn't been lost on her either and instead affirmed it as one that will surely go down as one of the most influential of its time.

No comments: