Willow Delivers New “lifE” to Seattle’s Music Scene @ The Showbox in Seattle, WA
Dani Bby, Tyler Cole, We Don’t Ride Llamas, & Willow Smith
Review By Sage Scott & Photography by Sarina Solem
Willow Smith’s latest album, lately I feel Everything, and the highly anticipated lifE tour, have both been nothing short of captivating. On September 21st, the 20-year-old’s iconic performance at The Showbox at Market in Seattle, WA marked her fifth stop of a two-month-long tour across the United States. This historic venue has hosted other punk rock and grunge legends such as Soundgarden, Iggy Pop, Pearl Jam, The Ramones, Blondie, and many more. After the pandemic’s impact on the live music industry, it was clear that the fully vaccinated and masked-up concert attendees were beyond ready to rock out and make up for the lost time. For some, the release of this album was a form of solace and escape from the reality of quarantine, mandates, and lockdowns. Some people, like myself, streamed (and screamed) Willow’s entire discography while living through unprecedented world events. With this in mind, there was so much pent-up excitement to be gathered at the venue. Even during the opening acts, the floor began to shake from all the jumping and dancing. This was truly the first sign that an unforgettable experience was about to take place at the Showbox.
To kick off the night, the emerging singer-songwriter, dani bby, performed heartfelt songs like “I Grew up in LA” and “Swipe Right!!” From the start, the opener connected with the audience by coming off-stage and hoisting herself up on the barrier to belt out songs about past flames and her Los Angeles experiences. What makes dani bby so endearing is how open she is about her journey with past struggles, like sobriety. Interestingly enough, the “Swipe Right!!” single is a collaboration with Willow, but they have not done a live performance of the song yet.
Next up, Tyler Cole, a 23-year-old musician, film-maker, and part of a two-member band called The Anxiety with Willow Smith, performed his original tracks like “Skeleton” and “Too Hot” from his 2020 album Just Different. Witnessing Cole’s unique range as a performer was surprising and refreshing. Musically, he is able to transition from subdued alternative and soulful acoustic to high-energy punk and rap, all in a blink of an eye. Above all, the versatile artist promoted the message of embracing individuality and encouraged the crowd to pitch in during his song “Abstract,” which features lyrics like “I’m on my own wave, I’m nothing like you, I’m different (abstract!).”
Last, but certainly not least, Willow’s audience had the pleasure of listening to the all-sibling band originally from Austin, TX, We Don’t Ride Llamas (also known as the acronym WDRL). Together, the multifaceted gen-z quartet performed a handful of their songs, including addictive and spirited singles titled “The Flies” and “Venus & Mars.” That being said, (vocalist) Max, (bassist) Kit, (guitarist) Chase, and (drummer) Blake Mitchell are all up-and-coming folks to watch. Undoubtedly, every single one of these musicians opened their hearts to Seattle, and the city felt their authenticity radiate outwards.
As the crowd chanted and cheered for the show to go on, Willow appeared wearing tights, black boots, and an oversized graphic tee featuring the English rock band, The Cure, on the front. Just as expected, her presence was ethereal, charismatic, engaging, and warm. After greeting the eager fans, she grabbed her guitar and started playing her powerful punk-pop hit “Transparentsoul.” During the songs “Gaslight” and “GROW,” Willow grooved and interacted effortlessly with the audience. Also, the headliner took a moment to encourage the audience to join her in repeating mantras like, “You are love! We are love!” By doing so, it felt like a special sense of connection was quickly cultivated. In response, numerous hand-heart gestures were thrown up in the air towards the artist throughout the whole setlist to show admiration. Another noteworthy moment happened during “Lipstick” when a fan’s lacy bra was thrown on stage and the star playfully twirled it around as a prop. Since then, Willow has encouraged fans to keep the bras coming, as stated on her Instagram page. As she sang the slower, more tender track “naïve,” a joint was lit on stage, and cannabis was smoked all the way through “Overthinking IT.” Other songs from her 2019 self-titled album, like “Female Energy, Part 2” and “Time Machine” were played (and enthusiastically sang-along to by many), as well.
As the night started to come to an end, Tyler Cole made his way back on stage to join Willow. In conjunction, the pair makes up an indie band called The Anxiety. The Scorpio and Cancer duo released their self-titled album in 2020, which has been gaining a lot more recognition this year. To everyone’s delight, they sang their hit “Meet Me At Our Spot” which recently earned Tyler Cole his first-ever entry on the Hot 100 this past week and is currently the chart’s highest debut for Willow. While sharing another joint, Tyler and Willow breezed through “Hey You!” and “Fight Club.” To finish off the night, “Wait A Minute” was chosen for the encore song. Now, this once unknown gem from her 2015 ARDIPITHECUS album has been used over 1.8 million times on TikTok for the #HereRightNow challenge. As for future projects, I am curious to see what type of musical magic Cole and Willow will create next!
In essence, the lifE tour is packed with inspiring entertainment and genuine artistry. Willow, herself, is a force to be reckoned with. The visionary’s musical talent and adaptability only seem to be growing, as she tackles new musical territories and genres. Apart from the tour’s main attraction, it was an absolute joy to hear the opener line-up and observe how the crowd reciprocated their energy and passion too. Wearing the coolest attire and their hearts on their sleeves, every performer showed up and gave Seattle an unforgettable show. Now that I have attended Willow’s concert at the Showbox, and have memorized her lately I feel Everything album, I think it is safe to say that this nationwide tour is bringing unexpected “lifE” to the music industry and the global community during a time when it is needed most. If I had a time machine, I’d most definitely be going back to see Willow again.