Written by Emilee Lindner • Photography by Sachyn Mital • June 3, 2017
New York — Lorde seemed to float on a cloud of happiness on Friday night when she took the main stage at Governors Ball in a mist of black, her friend Jack Antonoff joining her mid-way through her early evening set. But first, she had to make a dramatic entrance.
“I do my makeup in somebody else’s car,” she sang the opening line of her new song “Greenlight,” whose lyrics quickly become mantras fans shout back to her.
Her gaze was intense as she stared directly into a camera that glided to her side. The image of Lorde, veiled with a white lace, was projected onto numerous screens throughout Randall’s Island. “We order different drinks at the same bar,” she sang.
“I know about what you did and I want to scream the truth,” she kept singing, angst frothing up from underneath her bridal garb. She spat the next line like a fiery diss, “She thinks you like the beach / You’re such a damn liar.”
At this point, “Greenlight” usually takes an upbeat turn. In its recording, there’s an upsweep of jangly piano and a change in Lorde’s mood. But at Gov Ball, she kept it moody as she ditched “Greenlight” and launched into an older cut, 2013’s “Tennis Court,” instead. She ripped off her veil and drifted her hands into a dancer-like position, face stone cold as she aggressively wore through her debut album track.
But after the serious intro, Lorde cracked a smile. “You guys are already the biggest crowd we’ve had.” Her ballet-worthy stage facade had crumbled and she was the lovable 20-year-old New Zealander that we’ve witnessed on her Instagram — a humble one that was overwhelmed with the massiveness of the New York crowd as it screamed back her praises. In the audience, we were clutching onto each other, focused on Lorde’s every move, as a seemingly endless stream of fans somehow made their way to the front — even when it felt like there was no more room.
Lorde beamed. Glitter reflected off her subdued brown curls, her hands, her eyebrows, everything — in a subtle way, like she somehow woke up like that. She played through older tracks like “Buzzcut Season,” off Pure Heroine, and “Magnets,” her collaboration with Disclosure. Between songs she reminisced about last year’s Gov Ball, where, as an attendee, she ran into everyone asking where her new album was. She said she felt relieved to finally play her new tracks this year.
She dove into new songs off the upcoming Melodrama, her sophomore album expected out June 16. As she crept over the limp, collapsed bodies of her dancers, she eerily slithered out the words to “Sober.”
Because she was playing new tracks from Melodrama, it only made sense that she would bring out her Melodrama collaborator, Jack Antonoff, who had played the same stage earlier in the day with his band Bleachers. Together, the pals sat down at a piano for two ballads, a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me” and “Liability.” Antonoff grabbed a guitar and helped Lorde perform “Perfect Places” for the first time as well.
There was, of course, “Royals” — the singer’s breakout hit — but it wasn’t necessary to revive for too long. Lorde is clearly in a new era, and she seems very happy to be there. “We couldn’t ask for a better night,” she cooed graciously in between songs. Eventually, “Royals” had to pass the crown to its next rightful heir, and that was “Greenlight.”
After teasing fans with the opening lyrics of “Greenlight” an hour before, she returned to its intro once again.
“I do my makeup in somebody else’s car.”
“We order different drinks at the same bar.”
“I know about what you did and I wanna scream the truth.”
“She thinks you like the beach / You’re such a damn liar.”
But this time, she let loose. Piano pounding, heart throbbing, everyone in the crowd bobbing breathlessly. Lorde busted out her signature erratic dance moves and when she sang “I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it,” it was like we all had gotten the green light to dump out worries into the East River and surrender to jubilance.
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