Billie Eilish’s ‘Happier Than Ever’ Tour Is A Cathartic Release For Fans

Billie Eilish performs at Chase Center in San Francisco

Billie Eilish performs at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Chase Center/Skyler Greene

Four songs on her set list, Billie Eilish pauses.

“I have two rules for the night,” she told a screaming crowd of teens, parents and other adults of all ages at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Tuesday. “The number 1 rule is… don’t be an asshole and don’t judge anyone here.” The public applauds in agreement. “And my second rule tonight is have fun.” Fans react with more wild screams, as if proving they’re up to the task.

After releasing her second studio album, Happier Than Ever, in July, Eilish is now on a world tour of the same name, taking San Francisco as its 26th stop and halfway through. In September, she launched a concert special on Disney Plus called Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles, an intimate performance of her latest songs. When I wrote about the special, I noted that it’s a beauty to hear her perform live without a crowd to drown her out.

But standing in this huge arena with thousands of cheering fans, I feel something unique for this time: camaraderie and hope. For many of us, this is the first major concert we’ve been to since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to shut down two years ago. We all had to show vaccination certificates to get in, and despite the still looming pandemic, this gave a sense of security, especially since everyone was so close together in a packed arena. There is a sense of much needed unity and optimism, and Eilish seems determined to make sure nothing gets in the way.

After she establishes the ground rules, I feel relaxed and take her words to heart, as if they were from a trusted friend. I carry the lyrics of My Strange Addiction with me without worrying if anyone will hear me and judge my out of tune voice. This is the biggest gathering I’ve been to in over two years, but it feels like suddenly the arena is shrinking, and the thousands of people around me and I are all united by the same desire to have fun and witness the power that’s Eilish on stage.

Billie Eilish

Eilish spent much of the night talking to fans about relaxing and enjoying the show.

Chase Center/Skyler Greene

At just 20 years old, the LA-based singer-songwriter has amassed a huge following of people lured by not only her ethereal voice and music, but her bold, unfiltered personality. Earlier in the evening, Eilish tells the audience, “It smells a bit in here. Does it smell a bit musty?” She laughs, as if she’s joking with her friends. About 20 minutes later, as she’s getting ready to play her next song, she pauses and says she just realized something.

“I damned forgot to brush my teeth,” she laughs. “I have bad breath now and I literally want to scream.”

It would be great to be at a large gathering after years of isolation, but there is something about Eilish and her candor that makes this an even more exceptional experience. Forgoing elaborate costume changes and intricate dance routines, she wears an oversized black and white T-shirt and matching shorts all night long, jumping as she sings her songs while encouraging others to do the same. On stage it’s just her, her brother Finneas on guitar and keyboard, and Andrew Marshall on drums.

Eilish’s evocative voice and heartbreaking lyrics made me fall in love with her over three years ago. And given how tumultuous the past two years have been, her music – familiar, moving and comforting – has served as a much-needed refuge.

But it’s her honesty to fans about her own struggles that have taken my love for her to the next level. Eilish is candid about grappling with anxiety, body dysmorphia, and self-harm, making people dealing with the same issues feel a little less alone. In her song idontwannabeyouanymore she sings: “Tell the mirror what you know she’s hear earlier, ‘I don’t wanna be you more'”. tells the crowd to be thankful we are all here and alive.

The Audience at a Billie Eilish Concert at the Chase Center in San Francisco

A taste of normality.

Chase Center/Skyler Greene

Another song she sings, Your Power, is about people who abuse their power, especially men who abuse young women. In one part, she sings, “Does it keep you in control? For you to keep her in a cage?” After the song is finished, she reminds the audience that everyone has power and it’s important not to abuse it. She admits that even she has to remember this sometimes.

Eilish also addressed the challenges of fame and dealing with public perception, asking the question in her song Everything I Wanted: “If they knew what they were saying would go straight to my head, what would they say instead? ?”

But tonight it all fades into the background. Early in the show, Eilish tells the audience, “Don’t think about anything bad. Take all the bad thoughts and go on.” She puts her hand on her head and pretends to pull those thoughts out of her head and then let them go. “I want all of us not to worry about being watched or judged or anything. I want us to just feel free and good, no matter how old we are, how young we are, where we are here. Important, we are all equal.”

In the midst of all the screaming and cheering, I feel the tension in my body disappear, and I let go of all thoughts about the past or the future and focus on how lucky I am to be here now. It’s comforting to hear these words from someone who knows more than anyone how much the world and people’s opinions can weigh on you.

But that’s nothing to worry about here. Eilish has created an oasis where worries and fears melt away so we can all enjoy the present moment to the fullest.

“You can put yourself in a mindset of not having a good time, [or] you can get yourself in the mood to have a good time,” she says. “So let’s have a good time.”

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