beabadoobee and Lowertown embody the youth

beabadoobee took a seat in order to play “Ripples” in a change of pace for her concert. Her album “Beatopia” examines solitude, childhood and the ennui of relationships, speaking to an intimate bond between beabadoobee and her audience. // Photo by Aanya Sawhney Student Publications

As the last sliver of the moon winked through the clouds, the queue for the show of the night began to wrap around the block. Fairies, vampires, Sims and onesie-clad attendees convened on Halloween night to see beabadoobee in concert. There was a sort of anticipation in the air that the excitement from seeing everyone’s costumes could not even placate. After all, her last Atlanta concert was for her 2021 U.S. tour and the last time that beabadoobee had performed in Variety Playhouse was in 2019, also held on Halloween night, marking the current “Beatopia” tour as an anniversary for longtime fans. 

beabadoobee is a Filipino-British singer-songwriter and an indie rock artist who was discovered after her first song, “Coffee,” went viral on YouTube almost overnight in 2017. It was famously sampled by rapper Powfu in his song “death bed (coffee for your head),” which went on to become a sensation online; it carries on to be beabadoobee’s top song on Spotify to this day, boasting over 1.3 billion streams. Many of the fans present at the concert have been part of beabadoobee’s journey since her beginnings.

In advance of beabadoobee’s set was the opener Lowertown, also managed by the Dirty Hit label alongside artists like Rina Sawayama, Wolf Alice, The Japanese House and beabadoobee herself. Lowertown’s very movement and timbre was theatrical and cathartic in nature, as Avshalom “Avsha” Weinberg and Olivia Osby of the two-member band reflected each other’s movements and energies on-stage, with Weinberg even death-dropping to the floor to rip guitar riffs. The star of Lowertown’s set was “Bucktooth,” Lowertown’s self-described “rowdy song.” With the beat of the bass drum pumping through the audience’s bones, the beat permeated through the crowd itself as the pit jumped and danced to the music. Lowertown, similarly to beabadoobee, was revisiting Atlanta — but in a completely different way: Lowertown was born here when Osby and Weinberg met in high school in Atlanta, quickly becoming close as they began making music together and their bond grew stronger still. The synergy between the two was atmospheric — palpable as they transformed the stage into their playing field. Through “Best Person You Know,” the gritty honesty of Lowertown revealed itself. 

“The words you say don’t make you any more of a man,” Osby belted over the cadence of guitars. The rhythmic strumming anchored the song, creating a home for the loneliness bleeding from Osby’s vocals. Just through their opening set, Lowertown managed to suspend the audience in wonder, nostalgia and a little bit of obsession. 

Just as the spell broke, it was time for beabadoobee and all of a sudden the audience was bewitched yet again. She came out in a bloody bride costume, kicking off her entrance with a vibrant rendition of “What’s New, Scooby Doo?” as a surprise for the audience. Bouncing around the stage draped in gentle washes of green light, she moved straight into her next song: “10:36” off of “Beatopia.” beabadoobee signaled for the audience to get down so that they could explode into dance on the beat drop; even while she sang a song about not falling in love, the audience was enamored by her and wholly present, moving to the beat along with her. 

While beabadoobee touched on her foundations through performing some of her older songs such as “Care” and “Together,” she marked a clear shift in the show, calling out, “Let’s play some songs off of ‘Beatopia!’”

beabadoobee’s new album “Beatopia” is the subject of her current U.S. tour. Inspired by a childlike sense of imagination, “Beatopia” calls forth the solace in solitude of the inner child. While Lowertown grabs you by the shoulders and plunges you back into adolescence, beabadoobee instead retreats into herself in “Beatopia,” drawing out the voice of loneliness  — its inextricable ties to the human condition. And beabadoobee accepts this loneliness, singing in “fairy song,” “Eat so you’re stronger and live for the day.” 

Through “fairy song,” Beabadoobee lets go of her childhood and confronts the obligations facing her age. Sometimes growing up means taking it day by day — finding reasons to live for others if not for yourself. 

Next beabadoobee performed “the perfect pair” and “Don’t get the deal,” touching on the fleeting nature of relationships, often due to miscommunication and moreover, to complacency. 

To match the bossa nova style of “the perfect pair,” the stage was painted with orange light as if washed in sunset. 

The tempo and lighting enveloped the performance itself in a feeling of warmth and comfort so similar to the feeling of complacency in love. It was as if the stage itself was listening along to the music, reflecting the growing pains within.

As the show began coming to a close, the star moment of the night was when beabadoobee left the stage, coming back to a lone stool and a microphone, setting an intimate scene with the audience. 

She began singing “Ripples” off of “Beatopia,” a song describing her struggle with codependency symbolized by the ripples of facades she displays around others. Like the reflection of yourself that morphs and adapts to disturbances in the water, beabadoobee describes drowning in these ripples — these versions of herself that constantly distort, warranting self-discovery in order for those ripples to quell. 

At this moment, hundreds of fans held up pink paper hearts as high as they could, as part of a fan-made tribute to beabadoobee, as if to remind her that she can sing her truth in front of her fans; that they were all here to listen — to all and any versions of her. The audience hung on her every note — as still, peaceful and candid as calm waters.

The night came to a bittersweet end with the performance of beabadoobee’s last song, “Cologne,” which quickly picked up the pace to close the night out. Members of the stage crew came out in clown costumes and began headbanging to the high-energy music. As the song came to a close and beabadoobee threw her guitar pick out to a lucky audience member, she left the crowd a night to remember with a performance as fun, exciting and introspective as she is. 

And so the princesses, angels and vampires of the audience filed back out into the Halloween night — a sense of meditative wonder following them out the door.