Ever since she toured her first EP “Don’t Smile at Me” at age 16, Billie Eilish has been an electric performer. At this year’s Governors Ball Music Festival, she brought that energy back with a vengeance. With the festival marking one of her first in-person shows in over a year, and after releasing a highly successful sophomore album, Eilish performed like she had something to prove. It would be an understatement to simply say that she did not disappoint; she was a firecracker from beginning to end.
With intricate songs demanding a multi-octave range, it was a wonder that Eilish was pitch-perfect throughout. But then again, she’s never given fans a reason to doubt her vocals. Eilish paired nearly every song with tireless jumping and running up, down, and around her specially designed stage, making sure to give attention to fans in every corner of the venue. Throughout, she never failed to make her light, gauzy voice soar over her brother and collaborator Finneas and her band’s thumping instrumentation.
The L.A. native and 10-time Grammy winner also made sure to bring her audience in on the performance with her. “Give me all that energy you’ve been saving up for the past year and a half, okay?” she said before breaking into “my strange addiction.” When she went into her new track “Oxytocin,” a song she said she and Finneas wrote “specifically for what’s about to happen,” she spent the lead up to the beat drop begging people to get as low as they could (“No cheating! Lower, lower, lower, lower, LOW-er!”) before exploding with her into jumping and dancing for the rest of the track.
Tracks like “NDA” on one end of the spectrum and “Halley’s Comet” and “when the party’s over” on the other came with built-in opportunities for Eilish to inspire her fans to scream at the top of their lungs or be captivated by her subtle vocal acrobatics, respectively — a testament to her ability to move a crowd with her. Indeed, the set was a dynamic one, and Eilish did it all. Ever the superstar, she grabbed the attention of the thousands of people in the audience and held him captivated for the hour-plus set. She wanted to see everyone dancing: “Not just the front, not just the middle, but everybody I can see,” she said. “I can see you in the back! You might think I can’t but I can and I want you to jump.”
Kicking the show off with the darkly captivating “bury a friend,” Eilish took her audience through an expansive tour of her music — from early hits like 2017’s “Bored” (featured in the “Thirteen Reasons Why” soundtrack) to tracks from her latest album “Happier than Ever.” Even her earliest songs, “Ocean Eyes” and “Bellyache,” got marquee treatment in a mashup sung from atop a moving crane, an appreciated nod to fans of the two hits that first introduced Eilish to the world. With the magnitude of this show, such a packed set seemed only fitting.
Eilish’s range throughout the night also showcased her incredible growth as a performer in recent years. Seeing her on stage, it was hard to conceive of her doing anything else. The last time Eilish played Gov Ball, she was 16 and coming off the heels of her critically acclaimed and wildly popular debut EP.
“This is the best show ever,” she told a screaming audience, who had finally let her speak after a restless chant of “Billie! Billie! Billie!” “I played Gov Ball in 2018 … and it was my favorite thing in the world…. It was my favorite thing I’d ever done, and this might be that, the second time,” she said. The performance had the air of a homecoming, and a long-overdue one at that. Her performance of “everything i wanted” next to Finneas atop an elevated platform proved an emotional heart of the set, with her collaborator (and the song’s muse) in the spotlight as the faces of the audience were projected onto the platform and the giant screens behind the pair.
“all the good girls go to hell” was another emotional high point. “You guys, we need to take care of our planet. Dead ass,” she said as the intro to the “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” track started to creep in behind her. “If you don’t think global warming is real, you’re a fucking idiot.” Eilish paired the song with vibrant visuals of raging wildfires and climate protests, a stark image reflecting itself in Eilish’s all-white outfit as she sang of “hills [burning] in California.”
“Give it all to me, right now,” Eilish demanded of the crowd before closing her set with two of her greatest hits — “bad guy” and an unforgettable performance of “Happier Than Ever.” From start to finish, Eilish proved that all the hype surrounding her is well-deserved. Her performance was virtually flawless, all but cementing her standing as an unstoppable force in the music world.
—Staff writer Sofia Andrade can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bySofiaAndrade.