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Lizzo performs "Truth Hurts." Lizzo performs at a sold-out Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore. on April 26, 2019. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

To ring in her 31st year of being nothing short of a bad bitch at all times, pop/rap star Lizzo performed her new album “Cuz I Love You” at Portland’s Roseland Theater last weekend.

She summarized the message of her performance in a moment of teary-eyed appreciation for the crowd’s birthday wishes: “Don’t waste a moment not loving yourself,” she said..

The entire evening focused on showing gratitude — for loved ones, growth and, more than anything, unchanging self love. Her infectious confidence ran through the crowd, who embraced her unbeatable dance anthems and knew all the words to her two week-old album. One of the whitest cities in the United States was miraculously injected with rhythm.

“I’m so happy to be here in Portland, the city where we get kicked out of strip clubs,” she said. “Y’all are loud as hell and I ain’t never met nobody louder than me.”

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Lizzo busts out her flute skills for "Coconut Oil." Lizzo performs at a sold-out Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore. on April 26, 2019. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

The show opened with the powerful introduction of her newest album’s opening title track, showcasing her vulnerable, Aretha-inspired vocals. Lizzo later paid tribute to Aretha with a brief rendition of “Respect.”

Onstage in her high heels, nude nylons and electric blue fringe jacket, Lizzo exuded confidence as her four backup dancers gyrated behind her, decked out in ‘80s-inspired leotards and high ponytails. If soul-infused Jazzercise didn’t exist before, Lizzo’s backup dancers created it.

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Lizzo and her dance crew share a moment on stage. Lizzo performs at a sold-out Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore. on April 26, 2019. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

The interaction was consistent and mutual, with Lizzo inviting two crowd members decked out in matching sparkly “Lizzo” t-shirts to do some gloriously on-brand twerking.

What truly distinguishes Lizzo from other mainstream pop artists, though, is the transparent authenticity in her songwriting. She introduced nearly every single song with personal life stories on her path to self-growth, making the sold-out show feel like an intimate confessional.

“These are not some god damn fairy tales; these are real life,” she said. “I’m a survivor. I’ve gone through a lot of shit in my day,” remarking on past experiences with poverty and homelessness before her music career blew up. As a “big black woman from Detroit,” she cited unfavorable statistics she heard early on, highlighting the work ethic she needed to establish a chart-topping career. She continued with pervasive and largely relatable trauma: “most recently, I survived a fuckboy.” Channeling an air of gospel, the lights went up as she cried, “I have seen the light.” She then went into her song “Jerome,” a track telling a loser ex-boyfriend to “take his ass home.” Much like the rest of the set, audience members fervorously sang the lyrics in unison.

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"I survived a fuckboy": Lizzo sings "Jerome" as fans wave lights to the music. Lizzo performs at a sold-out Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore. on April 26, 2019. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

Unprovoked, the crowd serenaded her a happy birthday during a brief transition. Teary-eyed, she explained that she’d lately been reflecting on the importance of valuing loved ones; a crew member’s father died the day prior, giving her a shake of reality. “When you guys were singing right there, you didn’t know all that happened. You didn’t know how much it meant to me and you did it anyways,” she said.

Lizzo concluded the evening with a strongly coveted encore, bringing out her flute to accompany a performance of her single “Juice,” the self-proclaimed song of the summer. It’s the kind of song that could be played in Portland’s strip clubs — you know, like the ones Lizzo gets kicked out of.


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