Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 10:28 am | Fair 59º


Jeff Moehlis: A Different Kind of Buzz from Lorde in Santa Barbara Performance

In today’s pop music landscape in which it often seems that artists are trying to out-crude each other (cue, for example, “You know what to do with that big fat butt”), Lorde — currently only 17 years old — instead has songs that critique materialism and intelligently address social anxiety.

And, instead of trying to appeal to our baser instincts, it turns out that she is a poised yet dynamic performer, as was clear at her sold-out show at the Santa Barbara Bowl last Thursday.  #HopeForTheNextGeneration

Lorde sang every song from her only album, last year’s Pure Heroine, plus a couple from an earlier EP (Bravado, which was strikingly visually adorned with super-cool smoke-filled bubbles, and Biting Down). There was also one new song (“Yellow Flicker Beat” from the Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 soundtrack) and a Bon Iver cover (“Heavenly Father”). #HowDidTheyGetSmokeInTheBubbles

The show highlight was “Royals,” which exploded a year ago into a worldwide hit, and is about Lorde’s disillusionment with society’s obsession with money and fancy things. Instead, she craves “a different kind of buzz.” For this song, an old-style marquee descended from above the stage, reading “Tonight the Tragic and Wonderful Triumphal Procession of Lorde,” and giant red theater curtains provided a backdrop that matched Lorde’s radiant red robes. #BestMinmalPopSongSinceOSuperman

Her other hits — “Tennis Court” and “Team,” which had pieces of confetti that had a drawing of Lorde raining down on the people in the pit — were also especially well-received by the audience. For the record, the latter contains my favorite Lorde lyric: “I’m kind of over being told to throw my hands up in the air,” to me a declaration that we see through the superficiality and sameness of much of today’s music. #SoThere

Lorde opened up a bit to the audience as she introduced “Ribs,” talking about how crazy the last year had been for her, and telling the audience how welcome she, a New Zealander, feels in America. The song itself no doubt resonated with many in the audience, both young and old, with lines like “It feels so scary getting old” and “I’ve never felt more alone.” #WhatADragItIsGettingOld

Throughout the evening, Lorde gracefully flipped around her rather impressive hair and danced in a berobed free-form frenzy as she sang, with her music’s minimal yet expansive sound nicely captured by the rather anonymous band — a keyboard player and drummer — plus some prerecorded backing tracks for the vocal harmonies. #SometimesLessIsMore

All told, it was a truly amazing concert by a truly amazing performer. But don’t take my word for it: between songs, a little girl’s yell to Lorde summed it all up: “You’re magical!” #YesSheIs


Glory and Gore
White Teeth Teens
Tennis Court
Buzzcut Season
No Better
400 Lux
Biting Down
Heavenly Father (Bon Iver cover)
Still Sane
Yellow Flicker Beat
A World Alone

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >