Billie Eilish – Riverstage

Billie Eilish – Riverstage, 2019

Written by Jack Gobbe

It was just under eighteen months ago that I saw Billie Eilish at Laneway Festival. Although playing at 2 pm, the then sixteen-year-old played to a packed out tent at the main stage. Armed with just an EP at that point, albeit packed with hits like ‘Bellyache’ and ‘Ocean Eyes’, Eilish showed every sign of a bona fide pop star in the making. With her eye-catching style, talent beyond her years and of course a limited yet strong discography, I walked out of that Laneway set with a newfound admiration for the Californian pop star and a sense of wonder as to how far this kid would go.

I don’t think you could’ve even told Eilish herself the extent of her success in just a year. One year later, and Eilish has become a household name around the world. With a borderline cult following and a ‘pop’ album that has defied any generic pop conventions out there, it was safe to say that Eilish’s momentum over the past year all seemed to flourish in her recent and acclaimed sub-headline slot at Coachella.

It was this very momentum that Eilish brought to Australia, taking Groovin the Moo festival by storm in addition to her own sold-out headline dates. You only needed to hear the reaction to the new material to know that this debut album has already made an impact. Despite the limited time since its release, the devoted crowd knew anything Billie threw at them. Opener ‘Bad Guy’ found the crowd jumping in rhythm with the track’s bopping beat, with new material continuing with ‘My Strange Addiction’ and ‘You Should See Me In a Crown’.

It only took the opening songs to realise the development of Eilish as a pop star. Her effortless transition from ‘You Should See Me In a Crown’ to ‘idontwannabeyouanymore’ demonstrated a pop star with the ability to balance heavy hitting bangers with sombre ballads, a trend consistent throughout the set that kept the performance varied and dynamic. Backed by the gothic visuals and high production value found in her Coachella set, Eilish’s set revolved around flexing the new material. What one would normally consider ‘deeper’ album cuts such as ‘Xanny’ and ‘All the Good Girls Go to Hell’ found just as much fanfare as her acclaimed singles ‘When the Party’s Over’ and ‘Bury a Friend’, the latter serving as an excellent closing track.

Although the album dominated the setlist, there was a healthy dose of older material that reminded the audience of her evolution from bedroom pop to bass-heavy earworms. Eilish commanded the audience throughout the night, having them scream for minutes on end or silent enough to hear a pin drop, it was this control over the crowd that was such a testament to her strength as a pop star.

As the night rounded to a close, I couldn’t help but have the same feeling as when I saw her at Laneway Festival. After seeing her twice, I can only say that Eilish always leaves you breath taken yet with the feeling that she can only grow in both talent popularity. After this sold-out tour, it’s safe to assume Eilish’s next tour will be arena-sized.