For years now, Halsey has been telling us she’s coming for her throne.
“I’m headed straight for the castle/They wanna make me their queen,” she told us once on “Castle” as an early afternoon performer at Boston Calling in 2015, then again at the Boston House of Blues, and more recently, Agganis Arena.
And on Friday night (October 6), as she stepped down her staircase stage at TD Garden, fog cascading at her heels, she had finally arrived.
Fresh off the start of her hopeless fountain kingdom tour, the alt-pop singer brought the first installment of her headlining dates to Boston with Charli XCX and PARTYNEXTDOOR. “I had a really, really hard childhood growing up in New Jersey… as a Bruins fan,” she told the crowd Friday night, referencing her father’s roots in Quincy. “Being here and getting to perform in this arena — this is a big personal win for me, guys.”
The evening was a stark contrast from when she had previously performed on the same stage a few years ago as the opener for Imagine Dragons, which Halsey told the audience had her “scared shitless” at the time, having performed fewer than 20 shows prior.
But Halsey has blossomed a lot since then, going insofar as to develop two intricate new universes within each of her full-length albums, the most recent of which bears a deliberately Shakespearean ambiance.
Almost a year ago to the date, as she performed stripped-down versions of her songs from Badlands at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Boston, Halsey told the crowd that it would be one of her last times performing before she dropped her new material. Friday night, she made good on her word, bringing “the kingdom” to Boston and literally separating the crowd in half to represent two opposing “houses” of people, each the sworn enemy of the other. It’s an homage to Romeo and Juliet if there ever was one.
“If I keep my eyes closed he looks just like you/But he’ll never stay/They never do” Halsey belted, opening the show with “Eyes Closed” from atop her staircase before tumbling into “Hold Me Down.” Every step of her platform doubled as a video panel, projecting a galaxy of images beneath her red suede boots: A koi pond, endless bouquets of flowers, icy purple mountain ranges.
“I’ve got a problem with parties/Cuz it’s loud in my brain,” she sang on “Alone” as she presented her biggest party in Boston to date. She provided with the lovestruck jams of hopeless fountain kingdom, busting out hot n’ heavy “Heaven in Hiding,” trip-hop-y “Now or Never,” and self-aware declaration “Bad At Love.” On a b-stage amidst the floor seats, she duked it out with one of her dancers on “Lie” and “Don’t Play,” the rap gems of her new album. The best of Badlands was tucked into her set, “Colors,” “Gasoline,” and “Hurricane” all bursting at the seams with the same vigor and audacity that Halsey first built her reputation upon.
But since these Halsey universes are “democracies,” as the singer herself describes it, the VIP section had the chance to alter the set and voted for “Drive” over new tune “100 Letters,” allowing Halsey to repeat some Boston history.
“The first time I saw that tradition come to life was at the House of Blues in Boston. You guys have a legacy,” Halsey explained. “Will you guys please do me the honor of putting on a light?”
The stadium awash in cell phone flashlights, and perhaps a few actual lighters, Halsey’s kingdom and castle had come to fruition.
“That might have been the coolest thing that has ever happen to me,” she marveled in the glow of her fans. “That damn near might be the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Featured photo by Victoria Wasylak; follow her on Twitter @vickiwasylak.