If SZA hadn’t walked on to the Vinyl stage with a styrofoam cup in hand and told us that she’d just taken a dose of Mucinex, you wouldn’t have known the “Love Galore” singer was sick. There wasn’t so much as a cough or an itch in the TDE queen’s throat. Her sultry vocals were sharp, never wavering during her hour-long set.
Backed by a three-piece band, SZA high-kicked her way through songs from her breakout debut, CTRL, while mixing in a couple cuts from her 2014 EP, Z. The Hard Rock room could hardly contain her (she noted that it was the smallest venue of her tour so far). The R&B star, who’s penned songs for Rihanna and Beyoncé, was radiant, even when singing about her insecurities on songs like “Drew Barrymore”: “I’m sorry I’m not more attractive / I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike / I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night.”
That openness is what’s given fans a visceral connection to her music, particularly the young women who dominated the sold-out room. Which is why it’s fitting that she didn’t close the set with her biggest hit—the Travis Scott-assisted “Love Galore”—but with the uncertain “20 Something.” Lost as she may seem in her songs, she’s in complete control when she’s on stage, baring her soul for the audience.
Photos by Krystal Ramirez
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