Alessia Cara's Old Soul Kept Fans on Their Toes at Granada Theater

Alessia Cara
With Kevin Garrett
Granada Theater, Dallas
Thursday, February 4, 2016

All hail Alessia Cara: the queen of the wallflowers, heroine of the introverts, YouTube cover artist extraordinaire. Her soulful voice would lead one to believe she's lived through decades upon decades, but the Canadian singer and songwriter is only 19 years old. And on her first-ever visit to Dallas Thursday night, she sold out the Granada Theater.

The venue was swarming with an eclectic mix of young adults, mostly coupled up and packed into every nook and cranny worthy of standing room space. Opener Kevin Garrett, a soul-pop artist from Brooklyn, had the place moving along to his tunes, but no one seemed to budge between his set ending and Cara’s set beginning. No doubt everyone was there to see her. The place was packed with Cara fans; where you were standing was where you’d be standing.

Before Cara took the stage the crowd was chanting “Alessia! Alessia!” in hopes of persuading her to come out a bit early. As soon as she took the stage, the entire room lit up. I have never heard Granada Theater get so loud. She began her set with "I’m Yours," where she thoughtfully worked  “Dallas, I’m yours!” into the song lyrics, enticing the crowd to rejoice further.

“This is the biggest and largest crowd we’ve ever had!” Cara enthused, alongside the four musicians she had on stage with her. Since she was just nominated for four Juno Awards, it seems likely she'll be making that observation with increasing frequency from here on out. In fact, she also sold out both of her California tour dates next week.

During the song "Overdose," Cara picked up a guitar, proving to the possibly unknowing crowd that she’s more than just a soulful voice, and told them to, “Sing this one if you know it." And did they.

After the song was over she explained how she had never thought she'd be on a huge stage with people singing her own songs back to her. “If you have a dream, always know you can achieve it,” she insisted. She was pretty chatty between songs, which depending on the artist can make or break the mood. However, hearing Cara's positive message and words of wisdom really spoke to my 16-year-old soul. (Note: the author is 31.)

Before her song "Scars of Your Beautiful," Cara asked how many people in the crowd were female — to which, my lord, the crowd truly roared. “The next song is for you,” she replied. “We are constantly brainwashed to hate ourselves. There are many kinds of beautiful and you are that kind of beautiful. I'm not here to be a supermodel. I'm here to give you what's in my brain, my heart and my soul.”

Cara got her breakthrough after posting a cover of the Neighbourhood’s "Sweater Weather" to YouTube. In the homemade video, made when she was 16 (she has been making YouTube videos since she was 13), she plays acoustic guitar and belts the song out in the most vibrantly stunning chords possible. She signed to Def Jam in 2014.

Her breakthrough hit, "Here" — which was predictably saved for the end of the show Thursday — was written about a party she went to and hated. Cara identifies as an “anti-social pessimist” in this song, which is something that most introverts have likely experienced at one point or another. Last year on Halloween, two weeks before she released her debut album Know It All, Cara joined Taylor Swift on a 1989 Tour stop in Tampa, Florida, where the pair performed "Here" together in front of 55,000 people.

“If you really think about it, it’s such a miserable song for a first single, but I feel like it worked, right?” Cara told Swift in a one-on-one interview directly after the Halloween Tampa show. “It was different.” Swift said it was emotional for her as well. Going from YouTube and writing about wanting to dip from parties, straight to performing with Taylor Swift on stage? Girl's got talent.

That would've been a natural point to end the night, but Cara had another trick up her sleeve. She surprised the crowd with one more song, her cover of "Sweater Weather," for the encore — although a bunch of rookies had already started making a beeline toward the door after they heard "Here." Young she may be, but Cara already knows how to keep her fans on their toes.

Set List:

1. I’m Yours

2. WIld Things

3. Four Pink Walls

4. Overdose

5. Stars

6. Outlaws

7. Seventeen

8. Stone

9. River of Tears

10. Scars to Your Beautiful

11. Here

12. Sweater Song (Cover) Encore

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