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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Gracie Abrams connects with her fans at the House of Blues

Pictured is Gracie Abrams performing at House of Blues

In the less than three years following the release of her first EP “Minor” (2020), singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams has demonstrated both growth and consistency in the indie-pop space. Sonically, Abrams’ music has drastically evolved since her first EP, which largely focused on short, repeated melodies and simple lo-fi production. Her debut full-length album “Good Riddance” (2023) represents the personal and musical growth evident in Abrams’ career journey over the past few years, featuring more complex melodies and ballads which combine indie, rock and pop genres masterfully. Abrams imbues her art with vulnerable and direct storytelling, and her performances are not an exception.

Abrams kicked off her “Good Riddance” tour at the House of Blues in Chicago in March. Four shows into her tour, Abrams made her way to the East Coast where she performed a sold out show at the House of Blues in Boston on March 12. The show was immediately set up to be a special one. Energy was high hours before venue doors opened, with hundreds of fans lined up throughout the Fenway area to secure as early an entry as possible.

Opening act Tiny Habits, a band of three young best friends from Boston, couldn’t have been more fitting for Abrams’ House of Blues show. While Abrams’ hometown is across the country in Los Angeles County, Calif., there was a sentiment of homecoming throughout the concert, which Abrams later in the show attributed to both the presence of Tiny Habits and her family’s origins on the East Coast. Watching Tiny Habits felt like watching a group of college friends jam together. Their all-acoustic set highlighted the intimacy of their songwriting and their perfectly arranged harmonies. The crowd showed immense grace and concentration throughout the opening act, remaining largely quiet to reveal the gentle guitar backdrop of some of the band’s more recent singles “pennies (voice memo)” (2022) and “tiny things” (2023).

Abrams took the stage soon after, and it was evident immediately that this was not Abrams’ first rodeo. With two headlining tours prior to “Good Riddance,” Abrams has precisely mastered how to capture and sustain the attention of the crowd. She opened the show with the album’s most popular song, “Where do we go now?,” casually entering the stage and approaching the microphone just in time to sing the first lyric. 

Abrams transitioned directly into “This is what the drugs are for” and then “21,” one of the singles from her debut EP, with no dialogue with the audience. It became clear Abrams does not rely on speeches or chatter to connect with her crowd. Instead, she frequently made direct eye contact with fans throughout the show, waving at individual audience members and even thanking a specific fan in the “white shirt” for locking in with her during her performance of “Will you cry?”

She then played her first acoustic song of the night, “Block me out” (2022), which is the single she put out after her sophomore EP “This is What It Feels Like” and before the release of “Good Riddance.” Abrams didn’t take a moment to stop strumming her acoustic guitar, transitioning straight to “I should hate you,” one of the slower songs on her newest album. It was during these quiet and still acoustic moments of the show that the audience could feel Abrams’ two biggest strengths as a performer: her voice and her lyricism.

There was a rawness to the acoustic versions of Abrams’ songs that perfectly accompanied her blunt and descriptive lyricism and a raspiness to her voice that could only be heard live.

After sharing several hits from her three projects, Abrams returned to the piano for the most heartfelt and significant portion of the entire show. After an hour-long set of vulnerability, rawness and connection, Abrams remained open and honest as she performed “Abby,” an unreleased song she wrote for her cousin and best friend. Abrams used the opportunity to thank her fans for their own vulnerability: “Thank you for always telling me your stories and for letting me do the same back.”

“Abby” represented a break from the romantic themes that span many of Abrams’ songs, and instead focused on platonic connection and growing up. Abby herself was hearing the song for the first time live, with her and Abrams locking eyes throughout the performance. As they connected, the crowd did too. Suddenly the audience seemed to be arranged in pairs, fans holding and embracing the people they arrived with. Abrams’ voice broke off while singing the lyric: “I can’t believe our childhood is over, / I’m really grateful I get to know you.”

Abrams finished the show with a fan favorite from her first EP, performing “minor” acoustically, as well as “Right now.”

Fans were unsure if the show had fully concluded after Abrams thanked the crowd and exited the stage. She returned shortly after to perform a final encore specific to the Boston show, a song she said she wrote after “really missing this city.”

“Augusta” was a perfect conclusion to the show as it showcased how each and every one of Abrams’ songs that night had united the crowd under the vibrant ceiling of the House of Blues and under the larger backdrop of their shared city of Boston.