It's been a year since Olivia Rodrigo's debut album "Sour" was released. I knew of her thanks to the Disney+ show "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series'” and her song "All I Want '' that had subsequently blown up on TikTok. When her single "driver's license" dropped in January of 2021, the anticipation for the song was incredibly high. Olivia did not disappoint. Her songwriting portrayed the intense heartbreak she had gone through as a result of this breakup, and the pain resonated with listeners. Olivia connected with her audience emotionally, and we were all hooked. By the time her album dropped, in May of 2021, after having heard a few singles since "drivers license," like "deja vu" and "good 4 u," she was a household name. When she finally announced a tour for the spring of 2022, there wasn't a single person I knew that didn't want to attend. I was one of the lucky ones that got the chance to see her live at Radio City Music Hall on her first-ever tour.
The assumption that many older fans of Rodrigo's have is that her audience is mainly young girls in elementary and high school. As someone who attended her tour, I can tell you with complete confidence that it was one of the most diverse crowds I've seen: there were kids with their moms, teenagers, and those in their 20's and 30s, both male and female attendees of a range of ages. The songwriting style Rodrigo taps into has no limit on age or generation. Her unique ability to take specific experiences and turn them into universally known and understood feelings amongst listeners of any kind speak to her talent and musical influences. Anyone can write a breakup song, but to take every part of you that feels broken and bruised because of heartbreak or the result of growing up and turning it into an album that breaks records and wins prestigious awards on your first try? That is, artistic ability weaved in with vulnerability on another level.
Seeing these songs performed live for the first time was a cathartic experience that everyone in attendance seemingly needed. There was not one song you didn't hear sung right back to Olivia. She opened the show with "brutal," which thrilled me. My teenage self would have adored this song immensely. It perfectly encapsulates the utter drama of being a teenager that I still understand entirely and feel down to my bones today as a 28-year-old still feeling lost and misunderstood. Since this is her first album, her set included every song, which I thoroughly appreciated. Though she ended up combining a few of them, it was exhilarating to experience the entire album live. As a millennial, my nostalgic heart was on cloud nine when she covered Avril Lavigne's "Complicated." I fear the younger side of the audience did not understand the implications. Still, Olivia's acknowledgment of one of the most iconic pop-punk female influences of a generation was genuinely heartwarming.
My favorite part of live music will always be screaming along to the lyrics I've memorized, backward and forward, after listening repeatedly. Having the opportunity to hear these songs live and experience the joy and emotional connection with a room full of strangers is something I will always treasure. Though we may be a part of different generations, Olivia Rodrigo, like those before her, made me and so many others in attendance feel seen, heard, and understood. She may only be 19, but it's evident that she's not only a born songwriter but she was made for the stage.