Lorde Has Become the Pop Star She Was Always Meant to Be
The 20-year-old's Governors Ball performance was a stunning display of maturity.
BY Julia Black | Jun 5, 2017 | Music
So I have a new record coming out in two weeks… about the insanity of being in your twenties," Lorde told a crowd of screaming millennials during her anchoring set at Governors Ball on Friday. Lorde is 20, which means she has six months and 27 days of personal experience on the subject. Then she launched into "Ribs," a song she wrote when she was 16 with lyrics like, "It drives you crazy, getting old."
Pop music has a long tradition of making world-weary cynics out of people who haven't yet hit 30. But as precocious as she may be, there is nothing cynical about Lorde. Before she's even old enough to drink, she lives at a near-impossible intersection of youthful optimism and seasoned maturity. Her lyrics reflect a kind of wisdom that makes you wonder if she knows something you don't, while her persona exposes a kind of vulnerability that makes you want to warn her about some of the things she's inevitably going to learn. It's an exhilarating combination to see live.
Lorde beamed as she addressed the audience, commenting with gushing sincerity on what a beautiful, perfect night we were sharing as the sun set behind her. "I don't know if you know this about me, but I think of myself as a witch," she said conspiratorially. "And I feel like I cooked this weather up with some kind of spell." Every time she tried to play it cool throughout the show, an irresistible smile would begin to curl up her lips.
Then she played an electrifying set of songs about the hollow loneliness of partying, the agony of wanting someone who broke your heart, and the corrupting power of wealth. A troupe of modern dancers reenacted scenes of angst in a transparent box suspended above her. But it was impossible to take your eyes off her as she strutted alone across the massive, empty stage.
She brought collaborator Jack Antonoff of Bleachers onstage for a quiet duet of Robyn's "Hang with Me" (Lorde says the Swedish pop star was a huge influence on her upcoming album). She played old hits from her first album (did we mention she wrote that one when she was 16?!) and several new songs, including "Sober," "Melodrama," and a triumphant first-ever live performance of her new single "Perfect Places." By the time she closed with "Green Light," a strong contender for Song of the Summer, any doubters in the crowd had been converted to the Church of Lorde.