Over the duration of four months, with 40 different stops across the U.S., the CTRL Tour featuring SZA, Smino, and Ravyn Lenae, finally hit Cleveland on December 13th. With SZA being a five-time Grammy nominee, it comes to no surprise that she sold out the House of Blues, a 1,300-capacity venue, instantly with resale tickets going for hundreds of dollars.
The first opener to perform was 18-year-old Ravyn Lenae, an R&B artist from Chicago, IL. The best way to describe Ravyn’s on-stage persona is “bubbly,” as her carefree personality resonated into the crowd while she jumped and danced around the stage. She hit every high note perfectly and the crowd was constantly amazed by her phenomenal voice.
Next up was Smino, a rapper from St. Louis, MI. Smino was fortunate to grow up in a musically talented family — his father plays keys, his mother sings, and his grandfather actually played bass for the legendary Chicago-blues musician, Muddy Waters. During the show, he had his entire 7-person band with him on stage. As if the crowd wasn’t already having a great night, Smino gave a shout-out to some of the people sitting in reserved seats upstairs, which turned out to be some of Cleveland’s own Cavaliers! LeBron James, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye, Dwanye Wade, and his wife, Gabrielle Union were dancing along and enjoying themselves throughout the whole night.
The crowd began getting anxious, yet very excited, as the minutes passed by waiting for SZA to hit the stage. Around 9:40pm, she came out wearing an oversized pink jacket with camouflage overalls and began the unforgettable night by performing the first song off her CTRL album, “Supermodel”.
SZA is one of the most charismatic performers you could ever see live. She gives it her all and remains just as energetic from the second she hits the stage to the second she leaves the stage. She’s one of those artists that likes to interact with her fans, and treat them like friends. Every so often she would stop and talk with some of the people in the crowd. Many fans have different versions of CTRL tattooed on them, and SZA took the time to acknowledge the ones she saw in the crowd and compliment them.
The fans went wild when “Love Galore” and “The Weekend” were performed, those being SZA’s most known songs. Along with the crowd loving these songs, LeBron James was singing along himself! “Love Galore” includes a feature from Travis Scott in which SZA danced around during his verse, spitting some of the lines to the audience, driving them crazy. She did the same with “Doves in The Wind,” which has Kendrick Lamar featured.
Not only was the performance incredible, but so was the stage setup. Behind SZA were the letters “C T R L” in giant neon lights, that flashed and changed colors throughout the songs, making the whole night very aesthetically pleasing.
To end the night, SZA performed a very mellow and meaningful song, “20 Something,” in which the whole audience sang back the lyrics. When she left the stage, the first thing that popped in my mind was, “That’s it? She’s already done?!” I couldn’t believe the long-awaited night was over – I wasn’t ready for it to be! I guess when you’re truly enjoying the moment, an hour goes by in the blink of an eye.