by Sabrina LeBoeuf
On a stage of flowers and colored lights, Julia Michaels sang her inner monologue aloud. Through her contagious, relentless smile and incessant dancing, a random person would not have guessed she was singing about the anxiety she experiences and her past heartbreaks.
But Michaels fans knew. When she entered the stage at Emo’s Austin with blue eyeliner, polkadot pants, and a skip in her step for her first song “Pink,” the crowd immediately filled in an entire verse without any help.
The jumping crowd Michaels ignited was a stark contrast from opener Rhys Lewis. His songs like “Living In The City” and “No Right To Love You” touched on similar subjects to that of Michaels’s songs. But Lewis didn’t jump or dance to his heartache like she did. With eyes closed, he belted like his heart was being broken all over again. His falsetto felt like a glimpse of hope.
That’s not to say Lewis was a downer. He was raw in every emotion. For “Some Days,” a lighter song, he filled the room with love. Couples swayed in harmony under the blue light. Friends put their arms around each other for his final song “Things You Can’t Change.”
Before Michaels sang “Worst In Me,” she announced that it was her first headline show in Austin. With that sentiment, she asked for cellphone lights and everyone followed suit. All darkness left the room.
For a song about about remembering lost happiness, the crowd, submerged in sound waves, threw their arms side to side, and Michaels whipped her hair like a rockstar.
Throughout the show, Michaels emphasized how this was a judgement-free zone for people to sing, dance, jump, laugh and feel. And she meant it. There was a sign to prove it.
In the middle of her set, Michaels walked down the middle of the crowd to stand with her people. She wanted to see everyone in the back and to the sides. At first, people gave her a ring of space, assuming the security guards wanted them to stand back. Michaels didn’t want that. She beckoned them to come as close to her as they could.
After playing “Falling For Boys,” Michaels started her walk back to the stage and ran into someone who was visibly not having a good time. She reached out and asked them if they were okay before resuming the program and displaying her true emotions onstage.
Holding back tears, she spoke about how she wrote “Anxiety” over a year ago in response to dealing with panic attacks. She asked for a show of hands for anyone with anxiety or depression. The majority raised their hands.
Then, she prompted an exercise of two cathartic screams and one hug from a neighbor.
Immediately after Michaels said goodnight and ran offstage, the crowd chanted “Julia” loud enough for a quick encore.
First, she brought Lewis back for the duet “What A Time,” a song Michaels released with Niall Horan. The second, and last song, was one the crowd expected. The song that started it all: “Issues.”
A confetti-cannon finale sent colored pieces of paper raining down, and the first light to leave the room was Julia Michaels.
End Like This
Living In The city
Under The Sun
No Right To Love You
Better Than Today
Things You Can’t Change
I Miss You
Make It Up To You
Worst In Me
Fuck You // Apple
Falling For Boys
Julia Michaels Encore
What A Time (feat. Rhys Lewis)