When reps for SZA announced last week that her tour would be pushed back “due to unforeseen circumstances”, she broke the hearts of many Richmond Fans who were already lined up at The National. Luck would have it that Richmond got another date immediately and on Monday, August 21st, SZA, accompanied by Ravyn Lenae and Smino came to give the city a night of vibes through R&B and hip-hop.
The change of dates had no effect on the attendance as by 7:00 PM the line was again wrapped around the block for the sold out show – the show that hit capacity within two hours.
The show began with Chicago newcomer Ravyn Lenae. Lenae, who was recently named in Rolling Stone’s March Edition of 10 New Artists You Need to Know, warmed up the crowd with songs from her Moon Shoes EP and MIdnight Moonlight EP.
Next up was St. Louis Rapper Smino. Smino got the audience moving performing songs from his album blkswn. Smino had the biggest ensemble of the night: performing with two DJs, a full band, and two backup vocalists. He paid homage to fellow St. Louis rapper Nelly while engaging the crowd doing snippets of “E.I” and “Air Force Ones”.
His energetic and precise performance only confirms that XXL missed the mark excluding him from the 2017 Freshmen Class List. He wrapped his set by bringing back Ravyn Lenae and performing their song “Glass Flows.”
After a small intermission, the woman of the hour hit the stage. Performing in a simple ensemble of khaki joggers and an off-the-shoulder black crop top, SZA jumped right in performing fan favorite “Supermodel.”
Before continuing her set, SZA took a moment to explain while she chose Richmond to be the first stop of her tour. “Can we pretend this is the first night on the tour”, she said. “My dad’s from Richmond and my mom is from St. Louis. So I wanted to start here and end there.”
The vibes were in the air as SZA worked through songs from her hit album CTRL. Her energy was infectious as she jumped around on stage during the hour-long performance. No backup singers; no bells and whistles. Just her and her band rocking out. Concert goers sang along as SZA vocally stunned us with her range, control, and impressive falsetto. Her carefree style created less of a feel of a concert and more that we had the honor watching her in her natural element.
Before closing out the show with “The Weekend”, SZA leaped into the crowd to embrace as many people as she could. Her final request from the audience was to spread the feeling of the room when they departed.
WIll SZA’s sold out show encourage promoters to take a risk on more R&B acts in the city? She’s not the first R&B artist to do it this year. Kehlani sold out the same venue in May.
Only time will tell.
Words by and cover photo by Jess Snyder. Follower her at @Snyder_Vision