It’s 2014– the peak of Tumblr and a time where young adolescents habitually curated their pages with pictures of American Apparel tennis skirts, rainbow oil puddles on wet black asphalt, pale hands holding cigarettes, and motion blurred images of teenage girls wearing oversized denim jackets and doc martens. Joanna Kutchta, 8tracks playlists, Skins UK, doodles on CDs, Rookie Mag, and fairy lights. The list goes on…
Defining songs of this era: Sweater Weather by the Neighbourhood, Robbers by the 1975, R U Mine? by Arctic Monkeys, Lost in My Bedroom by Sky Ferreira, and Ribs by Lorde.
Lorde at the time was a rising artist who had gained popularity through her release of Royals written when she was just 16. About a decade later, she’s released 3 albums, won 5 Grammy Awards, and is now currently on her third tour for her most recent release, Solar Power (2021). On May 3rd, she was in San Francisco. So, of course, I had to go.
I wasn’t old enough to have lived the full manic pixie dream girl experience in 2014 but I was old enough to at least enjoy the music, and Lorde was one of the many artists that had solidified my love for that sort of indie-dream-electro-pop sound that was popular of that era. After nearly a decade though, I had found new musical interests and slowly disconnected with that sort of genre. Though after that night, I was able to revisit that part of me that was lost in the process of growing up.
The show began with the amazingly talented SF native, Remi Wolf. She took control of the stage with her skilled vocals and outgoing humorous stage presence. Her set ended with her most popular song, “Photo I.D”, which got the crowd warmed up for the main performer, Lorde.
Following up with a performance so intimate and nostalgic, Lorde performed songs from all 3 of her albums. Her band, dressed clad in beige-orange dress suits, were stoic in body and face and played beautifully as they moved from one organized formation to another. As for the physical set itself, a large rotating staircase lead up to the ceiling, standing in the center and commanding the eyes of all. It was an overwhelming sight– the centerpiece of the stairs, the glow of the vibrant red-orange halo, and of course LORDE. There was anticipation in the air and excitement waiting to be let out.
If you were a part of the whole 2014 Tumblr scene, then you would know that on her very first album, Pure Heroine (2013), Ribs was (and honestly still is) a very significant song. It expressed a sort of youthful euphoric feeling of love and friendship, not just through the lyrics but also in the overall musical composition of the song. And so, when its intro echoed through the room and filled the space, the energy shifted to even further lengths. We knew every lyric to every note–everyone danced and sang like they were 15 again (including myself). There was a collective feeling of nostalgia that brought us back to our younger selves that once ached for the utter happiness and euphoria that we were experiencing at that very moment.
This sort of collective feeling didn’t start with Ribs, and it didn’t end with Ribs either. Lorde had the microphone, but the crowd was consistently singing so loud that it was as if we had the stage and we were the performers. Greenlight, Solar Power, Liability, and The Louvre were a few songs out of the many that I remember the crowd taking over. It was unforgettable, to say the least. Our voices bounced off the walls and ceilings– I wouldn’t be surprised if our voices were heard outside of the venue.
Lorde had an amazing stage presence and spent several times throughout her set talking about us, her music, and about San Francisco. She made it known that she didn’t see the crowd as her “fans” but her community and friends. After all, we all did grow up with her.
As Lorde sings in Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All), “Couldn’t wait to turn fifteen. Then you blink and it’s been ten years.” Experiencing her music live is an incredibly transformative experience. We were given the ability to reflect on how much time has passed and how we’ve changed and grown, while we were taken back to a time where there was nothing to worry about besides the state of our youth.
TLDR: It was super fun. And you should see her live if you get the chance to. All hail my Lorde.
Written by Sarah Luu