I officially kicked off the 2017 festival season by attending the first day of Governors Ball here in New York City. I was looking forward to seeing Chance the Rapper, Flume, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, and a special DJ set from Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem.
But most of all, I was looking forward to Lorde. I love Lorde and have been waiting very patiently for her to return to performing after a 3-year-but-seemed-longer hiatus.
When Lorde took the stage at Governors Ball last night, she seemed to be her old, eccentric, somewhat inaccessible self, singing from beneath a white veil because Lorde does not even need a reason, you guys.
After the first song (and veil removal), however, it was apparent that this was not the same Lorde that I saw at Roseland Ballroom (RIP) 3 years ago. This is new and improved Lorde. Lorde 2.0.
Lorde 2.0 is 20 years old now, and while she had an amazing voice as a teenager, the additional 3 years have added so much maturity and depth to her singing.
Lorde 2.0 has matured in other ways, as well. As a teenager her stage presence was brooding, mostly quiet but occasionally sharing, in a somber voice, the deeply emotional stories behind her songs. Now she has more between-song banter and a much happier, brighter outlook. She seemed both excited and humbled to be on stage and possessed a natural enthusiasm that made you want to be her best friend. She remarked on the perfect weather and thanked everyone profusely for sharing in the moment with her.
Lorde’s music has evolved along with her persona. Her 2013 album Pure Heroine was a collection of mellow, electro-pop hits. Her new album, Melodrama, which drops in 2 weeks, is more upbeat and classically pop. The single “Green Light,” released in March and which closed out her Governors Ball set, is a straight up banger.
The production value of Lorde’s GovBall set was higher than that of either time that I saw her as a solo act. Earlier, her performances involved only her, standing and singing. She drew you in with her strange, jerky movements and intrigued you with the darkness of her personality. Now her show involves modern dancers, performing behind her in an elevated transparent box.
Most shocking of all was the fact that Lorde’s set ended in fireworks. I would not, in 2014, have ever foreseen a Lorde show involving any type of pyrotechnics. She was not that kind of artist and it would have made zero sense. But last night, it fit.
I was looking forward to Lorde’s set at Governors Ball but didn’t know how much it would blow me away. As a performer she is magnetic, and for a full 60 minutes (inexplicably cut from a 75 minute scheduled set, wah) she had the entire audience captivated.
Lorde has not just been through a hiatus in the last 3 years; she’s been through an evolution. Her music is snappier, she radiates joy, and she aims to truly connect with her audience. She has grown from a teenager who created pop music into an actual pop star.