On March 13th, SZA was the talk of the town. From houses hanging signs in their windows welcoming her, to the bright Viejas Arena sign, you could tell San Diego was excited to welcome her for the night. Lines that started from the entrance made their way all the way to the nearby streets.
Before SZA took the stage, Omar Apollo opened for her. At 8:00 sharp, not a minute late, the lights in the arena went dark, while thousands of fans screamed. Orange bright lights slowly lit the stage as Apollo started the concert with his song “Useless.” Each song that Omar Apollo performed had its own color to light the stage, for example, his song “Invincible” stayed to a neutral black and white, while “Want U around,” kept to its melancholic, ethereal vibes with bright blue lighting. In every song that he performed, he gave San Diego his all, dancing in between instrumental breaks, showing off his incredible range, and thanking fans who sang every lyric with him. When he announced that he only had time for two more songs, sadness quickly changed to excitement when the crowd favorite: “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All)”
began to play. The beginning of the song was overswept by the cheers of the crowd, and of course, the stage was overswept with bright green lighting. He finished his set with “Go Away,” smacking the drum symbols with his hands as the song ended, and thanked San Diego as the lights went dark.
The fans could barely contain their excitement in between the sets, dancing to songs such as “WAP” by Cardi B, and “Best Friend” by Saweetie and Doja Cat. The closer it came, the more evident it was that this was a sold-out show as every seat in the stadium was getting taken. Finally, the lights went dark. For a full minute, the stage seemed to be empty and all that could be heard were screams and chants. Suddenly, stunning visuals of dark clouds and waves appeared, and screens rose to the intro of “PSA,” revealing SZA to be sitting on the diving board that is seen on the cover of her newest album.
Transitions between every song were executed perfectly, the screens showed movie-like visuals that made this concert feel more like a story than a performance.
From a diving board to a boat dock, the sets were able to change smoothly without taking you out of the emersion of the concert, performing popular songs such as “Seek & Destroy” and “Love Galore.” Every song was well-choreographed as SZA had a team of dancers, hyping her up as well as she sang or giving the impression in some songs that she controlled them. As the set changed from a dock to what seemed to be an underground lair, she performed a cover of Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady,” with visuals of red flashing S.O.S. lights, staying true to the theme of her most recent album.
As every song passed, SZA continued to leap beyond expectations. From turning the entire set into a large boat, to then sailing over the crowd in a liferaft, you never knew what was gonna happen next. A crowd favorite was her performance of “Kill Bill,” where she appeared on the stage with a mace. Stunning background visuals of the dancers getting defeated as the crowd screamed and sang every word. She ended her concert, returning to the diving board, with a heartstopping performance of “Good Days,” as the screens around her projected space and sparkling stars. The words The End were written in the stars as the lights faded into darkness.
Photos by Jennifer Perez.