Concert Reviews

Olivia Rodrigo Packs the Toyota Pavilion for a Night of Teen Catharsis

Olivia Rodrigo's show in Irving wasn't long, as she's a newcomer, but that was good news for fans who might struggle to hold up their phones for a longer set.
Vera 'Velma' Hernandez
Olivia Rodrigo's show in Irving wasn't long, as she's a newcomer, but that was good news for fans who might struggle to hold up their phones for a longer set.
The roar could have been heard across DFW. Thousands of teenagers scream-sang along to every single word throughout Olivia Rodrigo's hour-long set, nearly drowning out the music itself. It was evident: Rodrigo has struck a Gen Z chord.

The three-time Grammy-winning artist brought her Sour tour, her first ever, to the Toyota Music Factory in Irving on Saturday night, selling out the venue’s max capacity open-air pavilion – the largest crowd on this tour thus far, Rodrigo said. Although she has amassed a fanbase that could easily sell out arenas, her team strategically booked smaller venues, given the young singer’s lack of touring experience and short musical catalog.

For fans lucky enough to score a ticket in the few minutes before they sold out, the night was a red-carpet event. Thousands of teens — primarily female and looking like they got their driver’s licenses just last week — waited in line for hours before the show in hopes of positioning themselves close to the front barricade. Dressed in lavender, butterfly-clad merch styled with plaid, platform boots and a trawlers' worth of fishnet, they were decked out in proper pop-punk princess fashion. The crowd seemed like a supportive high school clique there to cheer on their theater-kid-turned-prom-queen best friend. 
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Holly Humberstone's solo set kicked off the night for Olivia Rodrigo's show in Irving.
Vera 'Velma' Hernandez

Holly Humberstone, who recently joined Rodrigo on tour, set the tone for the night. The 22-year-old rising British star took the stage solo with only her guitar and a keyboard and wowed the receptive audience with her beautiful voice and quiet confidence. Fans were familiar with a few hits from her set, namely “Falling Asleep At The Wheel” and “The Walls Are Way Too Thin.” A group enthusiastic fans near the front of the stage kept Humberstone engaged, leading her to exclaim that Dallas was her favorite crowd yet. “Thank you for being so great, have fun with Olivia and take care of each other!” she said before leaving the stage.

When “Olivia” by One Direction played over the speakers, a sea of phone screens shot up in anticipation. The screams started when the purple curtains opened to reveal the shimmery, bleacher-lined stage, and they did not stop once during the entire set. Rodrigo kicked off the show with her pop-punk favorites, “brutal,” and “jealousy, jealousy.” before surprisingly jumping right into her No. 1 hit, “driver’s license.” A few songs got a slightly slower paced, punk-rock treatment to help extend the 35-minute album into an hour-long set, which made for a great live rendition. 
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Olivia Rodrigo at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving
Vera 'Velma' Hernandez

Along with some smart stylistic choices and a few drawn-out intros by Rodrigo’s all female band, Rodrigo added in a couple of covers to pad the set, which landed well with the handful of millennials and parents in the audience: “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne and “Just a Girl” by Gwen Stefani.

Almost every song got a spoken intro that felt equal parts pep-talk and vent-sesh. During a string of acoustical, more tender songs, Rodrigo teed up “enough for you” with an epiphany she had before the show: “I’m 19, I still feel insecure every day, but I find solace in the fact that every single person in this audience has felt that way at one point or another. We’re all in this together, and it's going to be OK.”

The crowd seemed to agree.

You’ll be pressed to find a better album these days that encompasses the range of teenage emotions. The novelty of the teenage experiences leads to more intense emotions, greater heartbreak and, apparently, uber-successful punk-pop ballads. What’s powerful about Rodrigo’s album, penned mostly in her bedroom like a diary, is that she captured a feeling through song better than words alone could, not just for herself, but for her young fans. 
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If a teen goes to a concert and doesn't record it on a smart phone, does it make a sound?
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The audience didn't miss their chance to sing those songs along with their creator, pleasing Rodrigo.  “When I wrote ‘driver’s license,’ I pictured a huge crowd singing the words back at me the exact way that you just did, so thank you,” she said. 
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There was more plaid than at a Highland wedding at Olivia Rodrigo's show in Irving.
Vera 'Velma' Hernandez

The night wrapped up in a flash with “déjà vu” and “good 4 u,” accompanied with a confetti blast. Just like that, Rodrigo skipped off stage and the lights came up. She played through her entire album during the set, so there was no use begging for an encore. But the crowd lingered for a bit anyway, reeling in the almost-spiritual musical catharsis they had just experienced. The show was relatable, and for some, nostalgic of the all-encompassing madness that is teenage heartbreak (before you grew older and realized that high school ex-boyfriends are not worth writing pop-ballads about, though asRodrigo has proven, maybe they are).
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Olivia Rodrigo
Vera 'Velma' Hernandez