When Reneé Rapp asked her audience if everyone was okay and the answer was a resounding “no”, that’s how we knew the kids were alright. Gen Z was well-represented at Arizona Financial Theatre this week, with the turnout for Rapp’s Snow Hard Feelings Tour arriving in their weekday best- angel halos and all.
Opening the show was- according to supporting act Alexander 23- the epitome of a rockstar, Towa Bird. The powerhouse guitarist brought her whirlwind set to the early crowd and the fans at the barricade melted at her feet. Bird’s openness about her identity and experiences translated well to a set full of original songs let loose from behind a wall of raw emotion. Her brief time onstage was massively memorable and got the room warmed up for the rest of the show.
Alexander 23 was a natural choice to provide direct support for this tour- as a longtime friend and musical collaborator of Rapp, the two poured blood, sweat and tears into Rapp’s recently released debut album. He’s a solid musician in his own right, however, and treated the audience to a cheeky set of his own tunes, along with an unexpected cover of One Direction’s “Steal My Girl”. The fans took every opportunity to shout words of encouragement and questions at the stage- which were collected and answered with both sincerity and sarcasm. His most recent album also came out this summer and new songs like “Cosplay” and “The Hardest Part” were well-received before the set closed out with “IDK You Yet”.
The theater stage was transformed into a forest landscape, complete with paneled video screen for Rapp’s introductory video that had her emerging from the fog right into “Talk Too Much”. From the beginning, Rapp was a bundle of effervescent energy, bounding from the constructed rocks to the front of the stage to reach out and touch her overjoyed audience. “Poison Poison” was another fan favorite that had the crowd almost singing louder than Rapp- and her delighted smile stuck for the rest of the set.
Between songs, Rapp spoke about the process of making her debut album, told in self-deprecating anecdotes and plenty of humor pulled right from the perpetually online (in the best way). She called on all her “Pretty Girls” to dance and then played a more personal tune on “23”.
The set was divided into acts and Rapp took her time with each song, backed by a stellar live band and the voices of her fans. After a particular favorite (“Tattoos”), she was brutally honest in saying how much she hated the next tune (“Too Well”)- although that certainly didn’t stop anyone from singing it.
The energy levels were still high but the night was winding down so Rapp played us out with “In the Kitchen” and an encore of “Snow Angel”. She may have risen to fame with her acting chops, but Rapp’s incredible vocal prowess is taking her to even greater heights- the next time we see her may well be in a much larger room.
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Story and photos by Olivia Khiel