On Thursday November 10th, Kelsea Ballerini kicked off her first ever headlining tour at the legendary 9:30 Club and proved that DC loves country music.
Even before Ballerini stepped onto the stage, the venue was packed. The excited energy filled the club and made everyone anxious for Ballerini’s performance. Despite this being Ballerini’s first ever headlining performance, she was ready to impress the crowd with her charisma, voice, and energy.
From the moment she stepped on stage in her sparkly romper and broke out into a high power rendition of her hit “Yeah Boy,” Ballerini was ready to kick butt and show DC the girl power side of country. She was excited to “Welcome you to the first night of The First Time Tour.”
It was easy to see that Ballerini is a big fan of crazy light displays. She had her name in marque lights behind her, and had light up panels covering every speaker and amplifier on the stage. Throughout every song, there were strobe lights flashing, and light displays set to match the music. During her song “XO” there were even little x’s and o’s flashing across the speakers. Even her microphone pole lit up.
Ballerini played all of her hits, and more off of her first record. During the crowd favorite “Dibs,” Ballerini was so shocked that everyone in the crowd knew the words; she almost broke down crying. She dedicated her song “Stilettos” “for the girls;” and came out with with a sparkly megaphone and a light up electric drum set for her song “Sirens.”
Kelsea also used the night to test run some of the songs for her next album. Among the three new songs she played, the crowd favorite was “Beautiful for a Moment,” which is the song snippet Ballerini posted on Instagram that had everyone freaking out about Taylor Swift teasing new music.
Ballerini also used a portion of her set to talk about her music influences. She started off by talking about how it is currently a unique time in country music. You have trailblazers like Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire, while also having guys like Sam Hunt “who you know listens to Drake on the weekends.” To showcase her love of country music and of her home state, Ballerini covered “Tennessee Whisky” and showed us the raspy, more vulnerable side to her voice. Then, she started to talk about her love for pop music and broke out into a cover of Adele’s “Send My Love To Your New Lover.”
However, the best part of the night was Ballerini’s intro to her hit “Peter Pan.” Kelsea talked/sang the crowd through the stages of a break up. She started by saying the first stage is getting over it and letting the guy go then went into “Let It Go” by James Bay. The next step was, according to Ballerini, the guy realizing you were the best thing that every happened to him and him coming back to say Sorry, leading to a rendition of the Justin Bieber hit song of the same name. Lastly, because “girls in DC know how to stand up for themselves,” she broke out into the lyric “it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late” from One Republic’s “Apologize.”
She ended her set with a high-power version of “XO.” This rendition had a rock country vibe that had the audience clapping and dancing along with. Lights were flashing with x’s and o’s and strobing into the crowd. In continuing with the rock n’ roll/girl power vibe, Ballerini ended her set by throwing her guitar to one of the tour managers and storming off stage.
To start her encore, Ballerini traveled up to the balcony and played her song “The First Time.” She said she “wrote this on the front porch while getting stood up by a guy…that sucked.”
Every time Ballerini opened her mouth, the audience fell further and further in love with her. Her conversational attitude made everyone in the audience want to be her best friend. When she spoke about her opening act/boyfriend Morgan Evans and said “that boy is the reason this next album will have a whole lot of love songs,” a collective aw could be heard throughout the venue.
The show ended with Ballerini first thanking everyone from the bottom of her heart for listening to her music and showing up to her show, then breaking into her first number one single “Love Me Like You Mean It.” Towards the end light-up beach balls rained down from the balcony into the crowd.
Ballerini’s incredible performance showed that women in country know how to rock, and solidified her title as the bonafide “next Queen of Country Music.” Whether you were a country music fan or not, it was hard not to admit that Kelsea Ballerini put on a killer set.
Photo Credit: Rick Diamond