Never in my life have I seen a scene like the one that played out at Billie Eilish’s Red Rocks performance. The teen pop sensation has taken the world by storm in a pseudo-goth wave of brooding bedroom pop, that literally everyone and their mom has bopped to in the past year and a half. With a marketing budget that could probably rival the cost of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, now 17-year-old Billie Eilish has become a household name in a bafflingly short amount of time. This rise to fame certainly showed in the waves of sheer pandemonium at Red Rocks on Wednesday night.
For starters, it would seem as though God herself wanted to set the most optimal mood for Eilish, manifesting an absolutely dreary downpour as people arrived at the amphitheater — perfect weather to revel in the melodrama and teenage angst. Straight from the suburbs, cars packed out every lot and fans abandoned their vehicles on the sides of the road, racing up the mountainous incline in the hope of locking eyes with the teen starlet — only to be halted at every entrance amidst the inclement weather. Tank tops and camouflage pants clung to skin, glitter dripped into the gutter and tediously applied make-up smeared down faces — a tragic twist of fate for the many hours’ attendees spent getting ready. It was a calamity.
The storm, eventually subsiding enough to allow entrance, stirred up a bevy of cheers from all corners of the amphitheater as fans spilled in to catch the opener, Denzel Curry. The crowd, an overwhelming amount of high school and middle school-age girls, a smattering of boys, their parents and pockets of random adults confused as to whether they’d wandered into their nearest Zumiez, took Curry’s hardline street anthems to the dome. Curry — as lethal as ever — spat rapid-fire bars, many from his tremendous new album Zuu. A dynamo of a rapper, Denzel Curry was caustic, taking his acid tongue from one bombastic beat to another, and the kids tore it up.
Half the fun was watching the kids “get buck,” and the parents not knowing how to handle the debacle, none more so than when Curry sprinkled in a tribute to the infamous XXTENTACION, rapping along to the wild “Look At Me!” With lines like “that little bitch got her throat fucked” and “you put a gun on my mans, I put a hole in your parents” being shouted from every nook of the amphitheater, alongside many parents, mind you, the dark comedy of it all was glorious.
Following Curry’s set, a massive LED-laden stage was revealed, just as the rain began to pick up once again. The girls began to hyperventilate, endlessly speculating on the near future of Eilish hitting the stage, the approaching reality almost too much for them to handle. When the stage finally went dark, ghostly apparitions filled the screen, shrieks consumed the night and the excitement finally boiled over.
Eilish, launching straight into her biggest hit at the moment, “bad guy,” wasted no time bounding off the energy of the crowd. These girls were something else — chewing up and spitting out Eilish’s lyrics, louder and with more exuberance than Eilish herself, whom, for her part emanated the gripping coolness of a loaded gun. All eyes stayed locked and loaded on Eilish through the dazzling lights as they played around her slight frame and took in her every move.
Eilish, a pop star or more befitting, the anti-pop star that only the Coen brothers could imagine, sings of sadness, death and self-loathing to the tune of her breathlessly ASMR vocals. If this sounds like a downer of a concert, you couldn’t be more wrong. The entirety of the performance was exhilarating, much like standing too close to the edge and wondering “what if?” Eilish’s fragile but versatile voice snaked through the curiously winding “strange addiction,” drew tragedy in the teary-eyed “when the party’s over,” found solace with spiders in “you should see me in a crown” and found the similarly dark humor and audacity in triumphantly belting the “seduce your dad type” line in “bad guy.”
Fittingly, Eilish tackled the stage like a girl dancing in her bedroom, made more so by the bed that would eventually float over the stage for “i love you” and “bury a friend.” Billie Eilish is as much for adults as candy cigarettes — relating far more to the emotions of peers knee deep in puberty than those who’ve been there and certainly done that — but it’s there, in that reckless macabre dance with adolescence where her true brilliance lies. She’s one of a kind — the type of artist that demands your attention and your rebellion — the type of artist worth going crazy over, and one you cannot look away from, if for nothing else than to truly embody that youthful ability to truly not give a fuck. Now I understand what all the fuss was about.