I think I may have cried a little.
Image via Apple Music
The energy behind Chelsea’s music and image struck me even before I got to the concert hall.
A street before the Hammerstein theater, I passed a group of teenagers chanting “Chelsea” loud enough to drown out some of the NYC traffic. Inside the ballroom, Chelsea’s team had set up stations to register to vote, where registering could win you free merchandise. I got this distinct impression that Chlesea truly cared about what was going on around her and that her fans really cared about her.
Opening act Arden Jones walked out with a mix of energetic percussion-heavy tracks and softer songs such as “starstruck” which he sat down and played with his ukulele.
Although much of the crowd around me didn’t seem to know his music, he worked the crowd with catchy lyrics they could sing along with and a grounded, honest, and undeniably fun energy, jumping around the stage and engaging the audience. Safe to say I was a little disappointed when his part of the show was over.
Chelsea has been touring with two openers, the second of whom is Ayokay, a DJ from Michigan. From the get-go, it was clear that many people in the audience were fans of his high-energy music and the man was just as high-energy himself, with a dynamic stage presence and a fondness for talking to the audience.
His performance was strong throughout without a bass we could feel through the floor and closed up phenomenally, leaving the audience excited for the rest of the show.
After quite the wait, the legend Chelsea Cutler herself ran out from backstage dressed in a baseball cap and a baggy tee.
Her entire set list was high-energy with the crowd singing along to each line. She made eye-contact with people, visited different parts of the stage. It seemed as if she was having a great time and that made it better for the audience. Her voice in-person felt deeper, more real than on her released music, and it was such a different experience as opposed to listening to her music through a streaming platform.
Before even starting the show, she thanked everyone for coming and talked about how she felt that touring allowed her to make a real connection with her audience. As per Chelsea fashion, she had anyone who was comfortable give a stranger a hug to establish a sense of familiarity for just this one night.
Her first track was on the raw end, the song “Under.” The crowd picked up after “Under” casting the incantation “Sad Tonight” at the top of their lungs.
Image by Desai.
"Fans at the concert wanted Chelsea to “spill the tea” on the story behind the song NJ.”
The show went on in a similar fashion, raw and emotional love songs mixed into high-energy pop. Chelsea performed the TikTok viral unreleased single, “Men on the Moon,” which most of the crowd was already able to sing along to.
Before performing “Devil on My Shoulder,” which she calls in a Tweet, “the most direct and mature song i’ve ever written about my depression,” Chelsea takes some time to talk to the audience about what this song means to her.
She says, “I felt like I was an unmotivated and uncreative and anti-social, tired person… It took me writing this song to really understand that my depression isn’t me. I can still be creative. I can still be an energetic, excited passionate person. I can still have goals. I can still feel motivated. I can still be all the things I love about myself, and I hope this song helps you guys recognize the same.” I think I may have cried a little during that song.
Chelsea did a fantastic job making the audience really feel her music, and it showed in the atmosphere of the concert. Making the hundreds of people packed into that ballroom feel warm and part of something bigger than themselves is a gift, and it was surreal to attend a concert where the artist achieved that.
You can stream Chelsea’s music on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube among other platforms. Be sure to presave her upcoming song “Men On The Moon,” which I had the privilege of hearing live already and is absolutely one of my favorite songs ever.
Stuti Desai is a 15-year-old writer from New Jersey. When they're not daydreaming, you can find them getting lost on long runs or reading obscure feminist essays. They are a hot chocolate aficionado, a Libra through and through & they love this zine more than words can describe.