SZA @ Center Stage

szacollageSZA… the first lady of T.D.E. FINALLY made her way to the A! After hearing mixed reviews of her live show, I needed to find out for myself… as a journalist I should formulate my own opinion, right? Just the thought of listening to her smooth, rustic voice live was enough to have me amped upon arrival at Center Stage on that clear Saturday night. I met with Debbi and Ian as Crowds of millennial hipsters populated the entrance.  As we entered Center Stage I saw that it was an excessively packed house, but the energy in the room made me think… “This is bound to be a fun show.”

Although it was a slow start, I genuinely enjoyed Alba, the first opening act. Despite me watching most of her segment via the televisions by the bar, her original take kept me interested enough to keep looking. She opened with a beat maker and recorded her own harmonies throughout the set, developing the beat as she went. It gave her an interesting depth that I found refreshing.

In true Ian fashion, he made our way to the sky box and we watched KeithCharles Spacebar with a very energetic performance. Although SZA is a smooth songstress, I felt that Mr. Spacebar did a good job with his song selection to make sure that it went with the aesthetic of the show. However, the quick detour into Atlanta Indie’s hit of “Wrist” by Father was a nice turn up to end the set.

The show’s DJs, Angel + Dren, were new to me, but did a great job of keeping me hyped until SZA hit the stage. It definitely doesn’t hurt to have a couple of beauties playing good music. Brownie points to Atlantic Division for having a DJ duo that I never heard of before.

During their set, I took it upon myself to go backstage and try my best to get a few words with SZA. Although my attempt may have been unsuccessful, I did get to exchange a “Hey, how you doing.” I started watching from backstage and then proceeded back to the sky box for a bwette experience.

She sung with such passion that I feel that she would have of projected without the need of the microphone (slight exaggeration of course). I don’t understand how anyone could have found her show “boring” with the energy she exuded in every song. SZA took off her top and pranced through the entire stage utilizing the space… not giving a single fuck that she isn’t a pixie stick figure model. Often times closing her eyes, lost in her own world. A world she invited us to enjoy with her.

“I’m almost out of time,” said SZA to the crowd as the show was coming to an end. The crowd began to roar for an encore immediately.

“One more?! Sobriety?”

There it was… the decision was made. The crowd lost their minds completely. Crowd participation was as potent as the vibes that her music created. As the last song progressed, the crowd’s cumulative voice created a harmony of its own. As though the crowd were the background singers to the song. I couldn’t help, but to sway with them from where I stood. Slightly jealous I wasn’t in the midst of them to REALLY feel the energy first hand.

Later I found out that SZA was actually sick the day of the show and was struggling to maintain her voice. I never would have noticed with the way she sung. An artist very deserving of her praise and I’m proud to be able to deny any claim of her ever being boring to watch live.


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