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Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Lizzo: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

July 29, 2019 | Stephen Thompson -- Lots of musicians cut corners during sound check. It's a time to make sure everyone's in tune and in balance, everyone's blocked properly for the cameras, and every piece of recording equipment is doing its job the way it's supposed to, but it's not as if anyone's rolling tape for posterity. Sometimes, Tiny Desk artists do their sound check in shabby street clothes before ducking into the green room to don their fancy performance wear. It's standard procedure, and no big deal at all.

But from the second Lizzo entered the room, fresh off a long interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, she was on: all charm, vibrant and gracious, dressed to the nines and ready to sing her face off. In rehearsal, Lizzo belted out "Cuz I Love You," the title track from her wonderful new album, with nothing off her fastball; if you were standing six feet away at the time, you'd swear the gale force of her voice was blowing your hair back. She was the star and the mayor rolled into one, at once ingratiating and commanding, as an audience of maybe 25 milled around and prepared to let in the crowd.

Once we opened the room, there were as many people as we've ever had at a Tiny Desk concert, hanging on Lizzo's every word as she held court and waited for the cameras to roll. She literally needed no introduction; one of us usually says a few words and gets the crowd to applaud for the start of the performance, but Lizzo was master of ceremonies from the second she walked in. Naturally, she needed all of two seconds to blow everyone's hair back once more.

Everything around the singer must have felt alien to her, starting with "this tiny-ass desk" and continuing through the crowd — perched mere feet away, with only a bit of office furniture and a few cameras as a barrier — and a backing band assembled, at Bob Boilen's request, just for the occasion. Lizzo usually performs with dancers and a backing track; the former, though much-missed here, stood in the crowd and bobbed along, while the latter got mothballed in favor of slyly funky arrangements. Together, Lizzo and that brand-new band preside over three songs from Cuz I Love You: the aforementioned title track, "Truth Hurts" (so winning, in spite of its repeated references to the Minnesota Vikings) and the literal and figurative show-stopper, "Juice," which gave her the opportunity to pick up the flute she'd been waiting the whole set to bust out.

SET LIST
"Cuz I Love You"
"Truth Hurts"
"Juice"

MUSICIANS
Lizzo: vocals, flute; Devin Johnson: keyboard; Dana Hawkins: drums; Vernon Prout: bass; Walter Williams: guitar

CREDITS
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Beck Harlan, Bronson Arcuri; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR

Tempo

The official music video for Lizzo's "Tempo (feat. Missy Elliott)", from the album 'Cuz I Love You'

Directed by Andy Hines
Produced by Nic Neary
Executive Produced by Nathan Scherrer
Production Company Freenjoy

Lizzo

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.

 

SET LIST

  • "Worship"
  • "Phone"
  • "Deep"
  • "Drone Bomb Me" (ANOHNI)
  • "Easy Easy"
  • "Scuse Me"
  • "Coconut Oil"
  • "Good As Hell"

 

CREDITS

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