Current Halsey fans are easy to pick out from a crowd. They appear similar to any other fans of young, rising stars: 13 to 15-year-old teenage girls, with a couple of apathetic fathers thrown in the mix. My friends and I felt out of place, as we were all approaching 20. What happened to the Halsey I knew that had played venues with less than 400 people with much older audiences just two years before? The one that I presumed would never sell herself out?
As a fan of pop music, I know all too well the typical rise to stardom. After being noticed by a record label, the artist is quickly signed, thrown music from ghostwriters and then releases scores of singles until that first Top 40 hit is caught. I would not have expected this from an artist like Halsey. After releasing her EP “Room 93” in 2014, Halsey was met with acclaim from many lovers of alternative pop. I will never forget hearing “Trouble,” a stripped-down pop ballad in March 2015 and having to abandon my cart of books at the library I was working at to cry in the bathroom.
Halsey went on to open for The Kooks, a popular indie band, before going on to lead her first headlining tour that consisted of small venues throughout the country. A year later, after her announced of her debut album, “Badlands,” Halsey opened for Imagine Dragons in her largest stadiums yet. Following that, the “Badlands” tour consisted of several segments of small venues, music festivals and finally ending with her show at Madison Square Garden.
How did Halsey suddenly rise up in such a short period of time to be able to not only play but sell out Madison Square Garden? It appears to be a combination of her fiery personality that is all too apparent on Twitter, her features with well-known artists such as Justin Bieber and The Chainsmokers and that she isn’t afraid to speak out against issues in the music industry. Her personality was one of the many things that first drew me to her, which included constantly changing her hair color and being an outspoken member of the LGBTQ+ community.
However, being outspoken on other subjects did not always prove beneficial. Every time I checked Halsey’s Twitter, I found her amidst another ridiculous argument. I also wasn’t a fan of the much younger fans her features brought with her, such as the hoards of Bieber fans that came to her side after rumors of Halsey and the notorious popstar being in a relationship surfaced. Halsey had changed from that girl I found on Spotify with 30,000 followers to the problematic Top 40 singer with “that one song about marijuana” my mother always complained about. I had eagerly purchased tickets to her largest show almost 10 months in advance to secure my spot. Yet by the time I walked into that arena, I was not even sure if I was a fan anymore.
My friends and I went to our seats and watched as the opener Oh Wonder sang their charming British love ballads. A tense 30 minutes later, the lights went out and the crowd screamed as the opening notes to the song “Gasoline” started playing. Halsey then emerged on her constructed stage in a black hoodie tucked over her head and screamed, “What the fuck is up, New York?” I was slowly becoming more into it. After “Gasoline,” she went on to perform more “Badlands” songs before saying “stop the fucking track” during halfway through her third song. She apologized for minor technical difficulties and wanted the show to be absolutely perfect because this is Madison Square Garden.
Instead of just restarting the song, Halsey decided to redo her entire concert. She left the stage and had the introductory music start once again. I understand that she wanted everything to be perfect, but I found this completely excessive and over-the-top.
The concert continued without any other issues and Halsey grew more confident with each song performed. Halfway through the concert, she had everyone in the audience turn on their flashlights for a moving rendition of her song “Drive” and then brought back the high energy vibes with “Control.” By this time, I was thoroughly enjoying the show and Halsey’s stage performance. Her songs are not meant to fill arenas, but her charisma and passion make the show worth it. An inclusive moment of her show is when she goes into the audience for “Is There Somewhere,” as she has been doing this since the release of the song on her EP. It was a truly enchanting moment as the beat dropped and Halsey dove into the eager crowd of screaming fans.
As it was the last show of tour and Madison Square Garden, I knew that something big would happen. Towards the end of her set, Halsey announced that she had a surprise for us and brought out The Chainsmokers to perform their single together, “Closer.” This got everyone, including my friend who didn’t particularly love Halsey, hyped and the atmosphere in the arena was insane.
After performing “New Americana,” Halsey left the stage, but nobody moved because there is always an encore. She came back to sing her popular song “Colors” and then left the stage again to my great disappointment. My favorite song of hers is “Young God” and I was thoroughly looking forward to seeing it live. Luckily, she came back to perform it as a second encore, and balloons flew down across the arena as I screamed every word back to her.
Once she had permanently left the stage, the words “You can find me in the kingdom” appeared on the two screens. This is presumably foreshadowing the theme of her next album. I don’t know what the future of Halsey brings, but I know that after this performance I will continue to support the music she produces and whatever drama comes with it.