A lot has happened to Halsey since the last time she was here in DC, when she performed at the 9:30 Club on the first leg of her Badlands album tour in 2015. Now she’s returning to play at the Capital One Arena this Monday, October 9th, for her first major arena tour.
When I saw her in concert for the first time last August, on the second leg of her Badlands Tour, her career was at a unique turning point. While most artists’ careers grow during the period surrounding the release of a new album, in this age of partnerships between DJs and singers, Halsey’s profile exploded in the off-time of her solo career. Released in the spring of 2016, “Closer” thrust Halsey, an indie-label artist, into the upper stratosphere of pop music and mainstream culture. The song spent 12 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, is certified 7x Multi-Platinum, and the lyric and music videos for the song have over two billion views combined. So while Badlands, her 2015 pop-alternative debut full-length album, was certainly successful by mainstream benchmarks, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling a million copies, and spawning the indie anthem “New Americana,” it was her “Closer” feature that pushed her to another level of fame.
Fast forward to the spring of this year, Halsey found further success on the charts, once again as a solo artist, with her hit single “Now or Never,” which peaked at No. 17 on the Hot 100. Her second LP Hopeless Fountain Kingdom debuted at No. 1 in June and now she is embarking on her first major arena tour in support of the album.
Halsey is big on the concept of concept albums. While her first album was about living in the “Badlands” of her brain, HFK draws on the idea of a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet story that she found connected to the end of her own relationship. So far her music videos for “Now or Never” and “Bad at Love” tell the story of two star-crossed-lovers of different houses. While previews of the tour visuals on her Twitter appear more artistically abstract than explicitly continuing this concept, she did name her VIP tour packages after these houses (cool enough, these ticket holders will get to be immediately to both sides of the stage, bringing these fans closer than a typical VIP seat would).
I had a blast at her Badlands concert, and I expect this tour to be even more ambitious in sets, visuals, and choreography than her last. She seems to have made HFK with this in mind, telling Entertainment Weekly: “The space I need to fill with my sound is not a bedroom anymore, it’s an arena.” She’s going to do just that when she comes Monday night, with supporting acts PARTYNEXTDOOR and Charli XCX. You can get tickets here.
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