By Stella Pagkas, Social Media Representative
It’s almost 9 pm at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, California and hundreds of people are pushing their way to the front of the venue to be closer to the stage. It’s chaos; people have been waiting in line for hours, and in general admission there’s not an inch of breathing room. Suddenly, the lights go out and the opening beats of a song we all recognize, “watch,” elicits screams and chants from the crowd. Sixteen-year-old Billie Eilish makes her entrance, and for the next hour the chaos fades away.
What makes Billie Eilish so fascinating is that over the course of a couple of years she went from a normal teenager to a pop sensation. At fourteen, Billie was a typical teenager living in Los Angeles. She was in the L.A. Children’s choir and was a dancer, and sometimes she wrote songs. When a dance teacher wanted Billie to perform to an original song, Billie and her brother Finneas recorded a song called “ocean eyes,” which they uploaded to SoundCloud.
Little did they know, “ocean eyes” would blow up almost overnight, and in 2016 Eilish signed with Interscope records. After the 2017 release of her debut EP dont smile at me, Eilish toured Europe and North America on her “wheres my mind?” tour, and now she is touring the US again on her “1 by 1” tour.
Eilish’s rapid success can likely be attributed to the fact that she has no interest in anyone’s expectations for her. She performs wearing a baggy t-shirt and shorts, and she sings about everything from relationships to serial killers. She’s not afraid to dance and laugh and cry on stage, and as a result you get the sense that you’re seeing the real Billie. And while her performance breaks the stereotypical teen popstar mold, it works flawlessly. The audience knows every word to every one of her songs, and we can’t help but sing along with her, though we can’t quite match her airy falsetto. We laugh as she dances to the Mii song and cry with her as she sings about a dead friend. Flowers are thrown on stage, and fans shout their love and appreciation.
And yet despite her swift rise to stardom and general air of confidence, it is also apparent in her performance that Billie Eilish is sixteen, and she’s new to this. At one point, her mom comes on stage, and before beginning a song that’s particularly vocally challenging, Eilish takes a puff from her inhaler. And while there’s no doubt that people knew her songs during her past tour, there are still moments in which she can’t help but stop singing and smile as her audience sings her lyrics to her without missing a beat. You get the sense that she can’t quite believe she made it here.
After an hour, Eilish announces this will be her last song. While her performance is short compared to other artists’, she sings every one of her songs, and the audience is engaged for every second. Her final song, “COPYCAT” is one of her wilder ones, and she asks us to go as hard as we can before the night is over, and we do. We leave the theater sweaty with sore throats, and grins on our faces. We didn’t just get to see Billie Eilish, we got to know her.