The Warfield was buzzing with excitement on a classically cold San Francisco night. From glittery tops to combat boots, fans of Japanese-British artist Rina Sawayama were ready to rage and dance to songs off her self-titled debut album, Sawayama. The LP itself has a nostalgic Y2K feel. With heavy guitars, electro-pop beats, and soaring vocals, Sawayama gave San Francisco a show to remember.
The show opened with the ethereal singer and DJ, Hana. Her siren-like vocals and entrancing house music set the tone for the rest of her set.
The anticipation was palpable as everyone made their way to their seats. Once the lights went low and the wall-shaking bass filled the venue, the crowd erupted in screams as Sawayama came onstage in a blood-red catsuit. She opened with the first track of her album “Dynasty.” Her head-banging, vivacious energy pumped up the entire set as she–and her equally high-energy dancers—performed songs like “STFU” and “Comme Des Garçons” and revisited songs like “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome” from her EP, Rina.
Sawayama, took a break from the high energy halfway through the show, cutting her set with a voiceover of dystopian news broadcasts and a powerful speech about climate justice by Zarah Sultana, the Labour Member of Parliament. Sawayama’s softer songs “Tokyo Love Hotel” and “Chosen Family” captivated the audience like a lullaby.
The energy built up again with Sawayama performing her new song “Catch Me in the Air,” another nostalgic sound a la late 90’s alt-pop and a dedication to her mother. She wrapped up her set with her queer love song called “Cherry,” lighting the stage in rainbow lights. The crowd chanted her name as she came out for an encore with playful and hedonistic “XS”. She wrapped her lively set with a mashup of “Lucid” and her remix with Lady Gaga, “Free Woman”, bringing the whole show–start to finish–with her dynamic sound.
Sawayama’s pop dynasty will continue to reign as she tours the rest of her sold-out US tour through May 13.
Listen to her 2020 debut album on Spotify below.