Olivia Rodrigo Delights Fans as ‘Sour’ Tour Comes to Chicago

In the often contrived world of popular music, it’s rare to catch a rising star touring within the confines of an intimate venue like a club or theater.

Today’s acts are designed to be placed immediately in stadiums or arenas, rarely given time to find their footing or grow as performers in front of varied audiences on stages of varying sizes.

Which is just a small part of what makes Olivia Rodrigo’s current “Sour” tour so refreshing. The outing, which runs through May before heading to Europe in June, finds the Disney star performing multi-night runs in most cities in mid-sized venues.

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On Friday night in Chicago, the first of two sold-out shows in front of 5,000 cheering fans at the Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, Rodrigo and Gracie Abrams’ opening act thrilled young fans for nearly two and a half hours in the hall. general admission.

“In this place, it really feels like something out of a fairy tale,” Abrams said onstage, taking stock of his surroundings.

Built in 1926, the Moorish-themed Aragon is named after a community in Spain and contains a stunning interior designed to resemble the courtyard of a Spanish castle.

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“Chicago! What a crowd!” Rodrigo said coming up on stage. “You waited outside, it’s crazy!”

On Wednesday, the venue posted on social media asking fans to arrive no earlier than three hours before the show while refraining from camping overnight. An hour before the concert, fans lined Lawrence Avenue and Broadway Street in Chicago’s North Side Uptown neighborhood, waiting patiently about half a mile from the venue.

The success of Rodrigo’s first album SOUR was immediate and immense when it was released last year. She wrote or co-wrote all 11 tracks on the album, becoming the only artist to make the top 10 on Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart with her first three singles.

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Now triple platinum in America, the album became a worldwide sensation, reaching number one in nearly 20 countries. Rodrigo set and then broke her own streaming records on Spotify and took a well-deserved victory lap two weeks ago at the Grammys, walking away with three of the seven awards she was nominated for.

Recently named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30, 19-year-old Rodrigo has also proven to be a savvy businesswoman, striking a deal with her record label that gives her ownership of her masters.

“It’s my niece’s first concert! I think this is the best possible concert for her first gig,” a fan named Mimi told Aragon. “My sister plays it in the car to the point where the three of us sing out loud. And she’s too cool for school. So whatever my sister listens to and listens to, I’m automatically going to think is awesome.

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Rodrigo, backed by a formidable four-piece band, sat down at the piano on Friday to deliver her debut single “driver’s license.” “I wrote this song about driving through the suburbs crying…” the singer said, describing the hit’s origins, barely audible above the screams as the crowd lost its collective spirit. Opening with just vocals and piano, the guitar quickly dipped low. “Sing! the star said, cheering on a crowd that didn’t seem to need such instruction.

A sea of ​​phones was visible from Aragon’s balcony, with delighted fans capturing almost every moment. Priced at just $20 for tour posters, merchandise prices seemed reasonable and sales were brisk Friday in Chicago.

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Rodrigo opened the solo for “hope ur ok” on acoustic guitar after a cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated”, one of the two covers performed Friday in Chicago. His rendition of “Seether,” by Chicago alternative rockers Veruca Salt, was particularly appropriate Friday in the Windy City.

Frequently referred to as the major voice of Gen Z, Rodrigo’s uplifting music doubled as all-hands singing throughout the evening.

“I just broke up with it,” said a young viewer named Abby from the southern suburbs of Chicago. “It’s the emotions in the songs. It happens. But I felt the songs ten times stronger. It was worth it.”

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A disco ball dropped as the cutting guitar rang out throughout an arena-ready anthem. ‘happier’ was one of the first highlights of the first night at Aragon. Rodrigo scaled the risers flanking either side of the otherwise sparsely adorned stage, eventually taking a seat with her legs dangling as she reached out to accept flowers from the fans in front before stopping for a selfie with the crowd crowded.

“So this song is technically not on SOUR…” Rodrigo said before being drowned out by the enraged Chicago crowd. Revisit High School Musical: The Musical: The Seriesshe delivered “All I Want”, before returning to the piano for “traitor”.

The cover of SOUR album finds Rodrigo adorned with stickers. On Friday night, she applied stickers of the Chicago flag and the Cloud Gate sculpture to onstage equipment, placing them near stickers from some of the other cities she performed in on this tour.

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“You are incredible,” said Rodrigo Friday from the top of his piano, introducing his group. “I just have a question for you…” the singer said, setting up the closing number for the main set. “Do you have deja vu?” she asked rhetorically to deafening cries.

“I was here last month and it was the best show of the tour,” Gracie Abrams said opening act, warming up the Chicago crowd with a reference to a recent performance by her at Chicago’s Metro. “Welcome to the ‘Sour’ Tour!” said the singer. “Being a part of that in a tiny way is like the joy of my life.”

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Abrams led the crowd in wishing a young fan a happy birthday at the start of a 40-minute set that saw her backed by a drummer and guitarist.

Opening with the ethereal sounds of “Feels Like”, Abrams closed the set by manipulating the keyboards on “I Miss You, I’m Sorry”.

“Olivia is a gem,” Abrams said onstage Friday. “We owe him a lot of love.”

Herman C. Harkins