It only took a few minutes for Japan-born, U.K.-raised musician Rina Sawayama to sell out the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on April 9th. Most of her upcoming shows in the U.S. have sold out rather quickly. This is because in 2020, during quarantine when everyone was stuck at home, Sawayama released her debut album SAWAYAMA to rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Now two years later, everyone is eager to finally hear her perform these tracks live.
Watching Sawayama at the Fonda Theater was thrilling as she gave an arena-worthy performance on such a small stage. She is pushing the boundaries on what it means to be a pop star by mixing ‘90s pop and R&B nostalgia with nu-metal production. Plus her strong dynamic vocal range makes her a force to be reckoned with. The 18-track set featured all the songs from SAWAYAMA, along with old favorites from her EPs including “Cherry'' and “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome.”
Sawayama walked on stage ready to impress dressed in a bold red bodysuit, accompanied by two dancers. To complete the popstar look she had a fan positioned at the front of the stage giving that fierce windblown hair effect. The show began with a thunderous performance of the dark anthem, and fittingly the name of the tour, “Dynasty.” The choreographed dances of each song were mesmerizing to watch. They were very reminiscent of the type of dancing pop acts like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera helped popularize – synchronized, seductive with a subtle hip hop feel. Sawayama also had a few different outfit changes that helped channel that vintage popstar look.
The crowd went wild when Sawayama performed “STFU! ” thanks to the rambunctious chorus line “Shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up (you, uh huh).” The song is about the many microaggressions and racial anti-Japanese comments that she has endured throughout her life. A lot of Sawayama’s music is about cultural struggles, trauma and LGBQT+ positivity, which is why her music is so relatable to a diverse variety of people. The touching ballad “Chosen Family” was another show-stealer as it’s become a queer anthem for highlighting the concept of a chosen family to those who’ve been ostracized by their family after coming out.
Towards the end of the show, Sawayama teased that she was almost done recording her second record and gave a taste of it with the song “Catch Me in the Air.” The airy pop tune she revealed is written for her single mother. Sawayama closed out the night with her biggest hits “XS,” “LUCID” and “Free Woman (Lady Gaga cover)” to a dancing crowd. They loved the bubble pop and her fierce vocals.
More info on Rina Sawayama, visit rina.online
- Comme des garçons (Like the Boys)
- Akasaka Sad
- Cyber Stockholm Syndrome
- Love Me 4 Me
- Bad Friend
- Fuck This World (interlude)
- Who’s Gonna Save U Now?
- Tokyo Love Hotel
- Chosen Family
- Catch Me In The Air
- Free Woman (Lady Gaga cover)