If you've only heard Lizzo's hit "Good As Hell" — and if you haven't, listen now, I'll wait — you might think the Twin Cities singer is a funny and ingratiating but fairly straightforward purveyor of self-affirmation and charismatic confidence. But as her joyful and explosive live show unfolded, complete with the arrival of the ecstatic backup dancers she calls "The Big Girls," it became clear that Lizzo has something more powerful going on.
Presiding over what she called "an all-female crew," Lizzo opened her set at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas — recorded live Wednesday as part of NPR Music's SXSW showcase — with "Worship," a playful-but-potent demand to be treated right. ("Patiently, quietly, faithfully / Worship me.") But Lizzo also threw a telling cover into her Stubb's set list: a version of "Drone Bomb Me" by the singer ANOHNI, whom Lizzo described as "my hero" during Wednesday's show.
For a singer whose songs are so focused on celebration — and whose message of comfort with one's own identity and appearance is so crucial to her music — the inclusion of such a dark song seemed striking at first. "Drone Bomb Me," like much of ANOHNI's recent material, processes feelings of alienation through violent, masochistic imagery. As sung by Lizzo, placed among the cheerful likes of "Good As Hell" and "Coconut Oil," the song sent a different message: Lizzo's music, like ANOHNI's, is about loudly, provocatively and fearlessly making space for oneself in the world. As fun as Lizzo's music is, it feels like a revolution, too.
Producers: Robin Hilton, Mito Habe-Evans; Technical Director: Josh Rogosin; Audio Engineer: Timothy Powell/Metro Mobile; Director: Mito Habe-Evans; Concert Videographers: Lizzie Chen, Nickolai Hammar, Katie Hayes Luke, Colin Marshall, Kelly West; Editor: Morgan Noelle Smith; Supervising Editor: Niki Walker; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann; Special Thanks: SXSW, Stubb's BBQ