Rina Sawayama live in New York City: pop’s rising queen brings dance therapy to Brooklyn

Avant Gardner, Brooklyn Nov 1: theatrical and healing, Sawayama’s first 'Hold The Girl' North American stop is a triumph

“We have ninety minutes together, you and I,” Rina Sawayama tells the crowd at New York City’s Avant Gardener. “We’re going to go through a little journey.”

There are no surprises set for the first of two nights in Brooklyn for Sawayama’s ‘Hold The Girl’ tour. She tells the audience exactly what to expect.

“First, it’s going to be a little bit of rock pop,” she says. “Then we’re going to get a little dark and maybe a little bit of industrial, electronic pop. And then maybe we’ll get a little sad and emotional and sing some country ballads together. And then at the end, we’re going to something I know New Yorkers love to do: dance.”

Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama CREDIT: Sam Keeler

Advertisement

The night begins with the boldly introspective ‘Hold The Girl’ and ends with the rousing ‘This Hell’, with the pop singer touring her latest album and adding in a few older hits in between. Throughout the evening, Sawayama makes space for theatrics. Bolstered by a dynamic pair of dancers and a band, plus a variety of extravagant costume changes (at one point she points out that her flowy white piece is reminiscent of a jellyfish, but don’t worry, “it’s couture”) she makes it hard to look away.

Dramatics aside, Sawayama’s confidence and skill, both as a singer and as a performer, are what take centre stage with her talent as supreme as her thrall over the crowd, which seems to have come not only to dance but for a mini therapy session.

She spends much of the night not only revelling in the medley of sounds from ‘Hold The Girl‘ but the themes the album explores. Written in the middle of the pandemic and born out of Sawayama’s lengthy exploration of self via therapy, ‘Hold The Girl’ is her attempt to hold her inner child close. “It was not easy,” she tells the audience “but something I did learn was truly the healing power of music.”

Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama CREDIT: Sam Keeler

If concertgoers think too long on the hints of deep trauma she explores during the 90-minute show, it may feel like a lot, overwhelming even. But Sawayama has the capacity and boldness to make a pop therapy session a whole lot of fun. When she asks the NYC crowd if anyone’s currently in therapy, nearly two-thirds of the room throws up their hands and cheers. Like all great pop queens, she’s not only here for a good time but also good feelings and good thoughts.

“I don’t know how you’ve come to us today, whether you’re feeling a little stressed, there’s something on your heart, or you just want to have a good time,” she says. “I want to make sure you’re leaving here today a little happier, a little bit more healed, and a little bit more yourself than when you first came in.”

Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama CREDIT: Sam Keeler

Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama CREDIT: Sam Keeler

Advertisement

Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama CREDIT: Sam Keeler

Rina Sawayama played:

‘Minor Feelings’
‘Hold The Girl’
‘Catch Me in the Air’
‘Hurricanes’
‘Your Age’
‘Imagining’
‘STFU!’
‘Frankenstein’
‘Holy (Til You Let Me Go)’
‘Bad Friend’
‘Send My Love to John’
‘Phantom’
‘To Be Alive’
‘LUCID’
‘Beg For You’ (Charli XCX cover)
‘Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)’
‘XS’
‘This Hell’

Advertisement

More Stories:

Sponsored Stories: