‘Happier Than Ever’ In Concert

Haley Wong, Scoop Writer

In 2020, the world stopped. Billie Eilish, along with many other musicians, was forced to steer clear of the touring scene due to precautions over the COVID-19 pandemic. Her last full tour, When We All Fall Asleep, took place in 2019, leaving fans wanting more. Their wishes were never fulfilled though, as an attempt at an additional tour was canceled. After two years of uncertainty, the singer announced the Happier Than Ever tour with a nonchalant YouTube video. Ticket sales exploded soon after, with fans scrambling to make up for lost time. Supplied with sixty six concert dates, Eilish was officially reunited with showbiz.

Source: Pitchfork

Happier Than Ever, her newborn brainchild, examines the messy realities of young love, adulthood and the red carpet. Given that When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? features an unmistakable teenage sound, age has undeniably granted Eilish more maturity for her most recent album. This moody collection avoids the figurative mystery of her previous works, opting for literal artistry instead. She reinvents her musical style with refreshing honesty.

Upon its release in July of 2021, the album was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception. In fact, it was even nominated for two Grammy awards, which would bring the artist to nine in total. The title track, “Happier Than Ever,” quickly became an internet sensation.

The concert opened with DUCKWRTH, a familiar face to Billie’s tours and a spirited rapper determined to start the show with energy. He bounced through danceable hits such as “Crush” and “SuperGood,” which instantly invigorated the crowd. Although his vibrant aesthetic clashes with that of the star’s, the variety kept the audience engaged. His band, accompanied by a remarkable backup vocalist, possessed an obvious bond which gave their set welcoming character. This friendliness was accessible to even those who were unfamiliar with the artist and prepared everyone for the night ahead.

“Who is ready for Billie Eilish,” DUCKWRTH exclaimed to conclude his electric performance, at which point he was met with spectator’s unrestrained cheers. Unfortunately, his wording suggested a promptness which the headliner did not live up to. As it turned out, the expectant concertgoers were stuck awaiting her appearance for an hour after the opener’s last song.

Eventually, the main attraction herself was dramatically raised onstage following a drawn-out sequence of overwhelming special effects. Wasting no time for introductions in a possible compensation for the delay, the performer launched right into the nostalgic beat of “bury a friend”.

Source: Consequence Sound

Taking a brief water break, the singer reminded her fans of how much she had missed Chicago’s United Center, which happened to be her first concert arena in the United States years prior. 

In response to body-shaming critics, Eilish published “Not My Responsibility” in 2020. The short film, complete with expressive visuals and powerful prose, touched on the way women’s value is reduced to their bodies. Throughout her tour, its music video was projected onto screens in the stadium, distracting the audience just long enough for the artist to sneak through the crowd onto an elevated crane. The machinery spun the 20 year old in a slow circle above the heads of her admirers while she sang. Her proximity to the crowd excited fans to the extent that her next track, “OverHeated,” was nearly inaudible.

One of the trademarks of Eilish’s concerts is the artistic visuals, which were on full display during this show. For example, “Getting Older” was fittingly accompanied by videos from Billie’s childhood arranged on the surrounding screens. “all the good girls go to hell” served as an anthem for going green as graphics of climate change tugged at the spectator’s heartstrings. Later, in “bad guy,” thin strips of paper were released from the ceiling with a cinematic flourish. Regardless of its momentary appeal, this flashy display reveals a troubling contradiction. After all, using so much paper does not exactly scream ‘eco-friendly.’  To this end, Eilish’s climate activism was pathetically short-lived.

Source: Bustle

Objectively the most anticipated song of the show, “Happier Than Ever” was magnificently angsty. Finneas, Billie’s superstar brother, took the spotlight to provide the thunderous acoustics which his sister rocked out to. There truly would have been no better way to end the show.

In medleys of new and old, songs from numerous different albums were occasionally combined into one number. These excessive mashups grew old quickly and took away from the production’s natural flow. 

A setting such as this provokes one to consider the frightening magnitude of celebrity culture. When Eilish would smile, applause would erupt from every corner of the room. Even the slightest hint of a dance move was worshiped exhaustively. Each and every moment of this woman’s life is examined under a societal microscope, and more often than not, she receives praise for simply existing, an accomplishment which most of humanity reaches daily without fanfare. This celebrated young adult is just as flawed as the next person, yet is continuously perceived and treated as if she is perfect. From this angle, the pressure of fame which she discusses in her music does not seem so unrealistic after all. 

Earlier in the night, the singer had established the one and only rule for the audience, which was to have fun. By the time the lights went down, it was apparent that they had all followed through. There was not a single person in the building without a smile on their face, joyfully delirious from the music. Clearly, Billie Eilish knows how to put on a show.