When SZA’s long-anticipated sophomore album SOS arrived at the end of last year, it was a moment that felt more timely than ever. Her poignant, no-holds-barred lyrics provided a form of aural therapy that encapsulated a whirlwind of emotions centered around grieving, heartbreak and loss.
Releasing an album during the holiday season was a risky move, but it paid off for SZA, as SOS remains at the top of several Billboard album charts nearly three months after its release. Her Friday night show at Dallas' American Airlines Center showed us again that her music is both timely and timeless.
Over the course of the SOS tour, SZA has been supported by Omar Apollo, who himself is at the point of his career where he’d be an equally exciting headliner. Throughout his set, Apollo performed several songs from his critically acclaimed debut album, Ivory. He also threw in some of his newer songs, such as the polyamory-themed “3 Boys.” Despite having dropped only three weeks ago, fans seemed to know every word of the song.
By the time SZA arrived on stage, the American Airlines Center was nearly filled to capacity. She opened with “PSA,” a song made available only through an Instagram promotional preview, as she sat on a diving board setup against an oceanside backdrop. Over the course of her nearly two-hour-long set, she sang a blend of songs from SOS, and from her debut album CTRL.
Even some of the deeper cuts from SZA’s catalog made their way onto the setlist, such as her Kendrick Lamar collab “All the Stars” from the 2018 movie Black Panther. It’s worth noting that in 2018, another version of “All the Stars” replaced the originally released track on streaming services (for reasons undisclosed) with different lyrics in SZA’s verse; however, fans seemed ready for whichever version SZA would perform.
The climax of the show came when SZA changed into a white dress and floated across the venue atop a giant life preserver. During this portion, she performed her CTRL-era breakup anthem “Supermodel,” her Radiohead-interpolating “Special,” and her current hit single, “Nobody Gets Me.”
Of course, the concert did have its cheerful moments, like when she performed her verse on the Doja Cat collaboration “Kiss Me More.” During this song, much of the audience replicated its viral TikTok dance.
However, it seemed like a large part of the audience was in the mood for her revenge anthems, whether by calling out exes via “Kill Bill,” or collectively shouting “fuck you” and throwing up their middle fingers during the chorus of “I Hate U.”
The concert ended on a positive note, as she performed “Good Days” as her encore song. At this point, much of the audience was bobbing back and forth to the music, singing along to the song that arrived as a surprise Christmas gift during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dallas stop of the SOS tour felt like a safe haven, as Apollo put a wide range of queer emotions on display, and SZA provided a space for the audience to let their feelings flow freely. After the last few years we’ve had, a night of incredible music proved to be exactly what we needed.