April 9, 2024

Olivia Rodrigo played Madison Square Garden (Night 4)

Olivia Rodrigo wrapped-up her North American headlining tour behind her smash hit album GUTS with a sold-out run at Madison Square Garden that featured support from The Breeders.

In a bit of a surprise move, after having some pretty contemporary openers for the majority of her U.S. tour dates, pop mega-star Olivia Rodrigo tapped '90s alt-rock icons The Breeders to open her last run of dates which concluded with four sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. While the vast majority of Olivia's fans weren't even in their seats yet, those who were seemed a little puzzled by the opening set (although it seemed some parents were down for the killer first act) as the veteran indie band crushed their set of scorching blasts of fuzzed-out guitars and funky rhythms. Far from the pop sensations that would follow, The Breeders dug deep into their catalogue and blasted away at some of their grungiest grooves with the volume cranked as loud as they were allowed giving into a lot of the vibes that would seem to be inspirations for Ms. Rodrigo's hyped-up grunge-pop bangers. Buzzing along with striking hits of amped-up guitar rock, the band laid it all out for their hit "Cannonball" and the thrill of hearing that song live was as forceful as ever, even despite the setting, and the band even seemed to turn some heads with its greatness before kicking it up even further with "Divine Hammer," another scuzzy anthem that sounded massive in the cavernous MSG. This set the stage for Kim Deal to offer up a version of her Pixies' track "Gigantic," a stunning closer from a generational inspiration that catered more to the generation that was there to supervise the crowd of the headliner, but felt also like a quality passing of a torch and significant acknowledgement that Olivia has indeed done her homework and is paying tribute to the acts that have given her such creative inspiration.

Following the opening set, the giant screen behind the stage hosted a video of candles spelled out to form GUTS slowly melting and as the final flames finally made their way to the bottom of the wicks, the lights went out and the building erupted in one of the loudest screams I've ever heard in my life. As black and white footage showed Olivia making her way to the stage before knocking on a lavender ice colored door, the room cranked the volume even louder. Walking up the stairs to the stage, Rodrigo momentarily basked in her glory as her legions of fans shouted their praises at the tops of their lungs before she jumped into the massive sing-a-long that wouldn't let up for the remainder of the night. "Bad Idea Right?" set the night off in epic fashion as 15,000 in attendance raised their voices to the loudest possible volume, screaming back to their queen with the utmost devotion and praise, cheering with even more oomph as they belted "fuck it's fine" with pure elation. Wasting no time, the hits kept coming with "ballad of a homeschool girl" following right behind in the second slot, keeping the momentum in top form. As a piano rose to the stage, Olivia went straight for the jugular and kicked right into the massive hit "vampire" extremely early in the set which only delighted fans even more and segued wonderfully into the deeply personal "traitor." Even with those in attendance keeping the average age well in the early teens, it was clear that many of them have had their feeling stomped-out and they were ready to released all the tension that has been building up through the school year and letting it all out with your besties was without question the theme of the night and one these kids had been waiting for since homecoming. Blanketing the stage in a deep fog, "driver's license" was another early smash and just went it seemed like we has heard what must've been the pinnacle in shrieks, the refrain of "red lights / stop signs" was yet another ear-piercing moment. With only two records under her belt, there are still no weak spots in her catalogue and even some of the "lesser" hits still unpacked meaning for those in the crowd, the scream-a-long moments and streaming tears endless throughout the night as she skipped her way across the stage, occasionally joined by a team of great dancers who weaved in some fun elements to the show as well. After a few outfit changes, Rodrgio hopped onto a giant glowing moon that had descended from the rafters and rode it around the perimeter of the floor area, waving to fans and eliciting even more mind-blowing reactions from the crowd as she got closer to new sets of fans. "logical" and "enough for you" were two more giant numbers that had the crowd belting along in unison to extend things even further. The only moment of the night that felt somewhat tame was when she brought special guest Jewel out to cover her '90s classic "I Was Meant For You." It was perhaps the only song of the night in which people sat in there chairs, but for those old enough to know the epic song, it was just another magical moment of the night and really made it feel like this wasn't just a show for those born in this millennium. Cleaning up the night was a lavish string of more hits, she brought it home with "deja vu" which found her stomping around the stage and getting the building to shake on a level I've rarely experienced. Recent bonus track "obsessed" proved to be a success and was once again met with killer screams, but closing the set with "all-american bitch" really set the bar for the encore. Coming back to "good 4 u" was monumental and had the room reeling with energy almost as if the night had just started and we weren't nearly two hours in to the show. Grabbing a purple St. Vincent designed and branded guitar, Olivia gave us her biggest rock star sequence of the night, jamming out with her band and smashing the cymbals on the drum set just before hitting us with the unreal finale of "get him back." Leading the entire arena through 120 minutes of non-stop adrenaline boosting entertain was magnified by the euphoria that young people in attendance exhibited and to witness them in response to the performance was almost as much of a show as what was happening on stage. While there are many stars of her caliber and influence putting on shows today, those can tend to feel like they're of the moment, while Olivia herself is the moment and her power is unlimited.

Set list:

01 "bad idea right?"
02 "ballad of a homeschooled girl"
03 "vampire"
04 "traitor"
05 "drivers license"
06 "teenage dream"
07 "pretty isn't pretty"
08 "love is embarrassing"
09 "making the bed"
10 "logical"
11 "enough for you"
12 "lacy"
13 "jealousy, jealousy"
14 "Can't Catch Me Now"
15 "You Were Meant For Me" [Jewel cover with Jewel]
16 "happier"
17 "favorite crime"
18 "deja vu"
19 "the grudge"
20 "brutal"
21 "obsessed"
22 "all-american bitch"
23 "good 4 u"
24 "get him back!"

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