REVIEW: ‘The Sour Tour’ – teen angst experience

Olivia+Rodrigo+performed+at+The+Rave+April+19.

Photo by Patrick Curran (patrick.curran@marquette.edu)

Olivia Rodrigo performed at The Rave April 19.

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album “SOUR” has well over six billion streams on Spotify since its release last May, and recently she became a three-time Grammy winner. Mere months after releasing “SOUR”, Rodrigo went to the White House in an effort to promote COVID-19 vaccinations among her young fanbase. She was named  Time magazine’s Entertainer of The Year and Billboard’s Woman Of The Year. All this, and more was accomplished in less than a year and a half and just this past week, Rodrigo had her first concert in Milwaukee.

She hosted her first Milwaukee concert at The Rave as a part of her first-ever tour, “The Sour Tour” April 19. The Milwaukee stop is the tenth show of 48 concerts that will run until early July across North America and Europe.

A headlining tour accompanying a debut album is not a rite of passage, but she could have easily sold-out arenas across the world due to the unprecedented success of “SOUR.” Instead, Rodrigo decided not to skip any steps and play smaller venues before headlining crowds north of 15 thousand such as the Fiserv Forum.

While this decision led to fewer tickets sold, it allowed those who were lucky enough to buy a ticket to get a personal look at one of music’s brightest new stars.

Fans slept outside The Rave starting at 6 p.m. Monday to get the best seats in the house. With a general admission crowd of 3,500, some lined up during the hours leading up to the doors opening to get as close as possible to the stage.

The crowd consisted of one of the most diverse concert crowds I have seen in a while. The group behind me was a group of moms who knew every word to the 19-year-old star’s album. Those in front of me were a group of twenty-something men dancing their hearts out.

With many tours and concerts cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans may be eager to see their favorite artists perform live. But for Rodrigo, someone who did not blow up until January 2021, she’s never toured. Her first-ever times performing live were on stages such as Saturday Night Live and the MTV Video Music Awards. She is not the most experienced performer and is still learning to navigate a stage and engage a crowd. She struggles in the stage design area as the production was limited at best. With a bigger venue and more songs, I am sure she will expand her stage and offer a full spectacle.

However, I thought the concert was remarkable for a first tour. While only a hour long, Rodrigo’s set opened with a bang with punk-rock favorites such as “brutal” and “jealousy, jealousy” before going into arguably the song of 2021, “driver’s license.”

I thought it was a risk to sing her breakout hit three songs in, but it worked for Rodrigo, who did not lack any charisma for the entirety of her set.

Olivia also honored her inspirations with covers of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” and Veruca Salt’s “Seether.” Before belting out “Seether,” Rodrigo dedicated the song to her mom, a Wisconsin native.

Olivia also had parts of the show that were just her and a guitar, including “enough for you,” when the crowd put up their flashlights and lit up the venue.

Olivia then seamlessly transitioned into “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” which interpolates her biggest inspiration, Taylor Swift’s “New Year’s Day” from “reputation.”

Following a costume change, Rodrigo’s band returned to perform a country-like version of “favorite crime” and a powerful rendition of “traitor.”

The best song of the evening was the encore, “good 4 u,” where Rodrigo danced around as confetti fell from the rafters. With an extended bridge and everyone singing their hearts out, it made a perfect finale for a show from a rising star.

If anything, Rodrigo’s first Milwaukee concert shows that she is anything but a one-hit-wonder and is coming into her own as an excellent performer. I look forward to seeing her sell out the Fiserv Forum in the future. Her future is anything but “brutal” as she continues riding the wave of all the success that are sure to come her way.

This story was written by Patrick Curran. He can be reached at patrick.curran@marquette.edu