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A Night of Heartbreaking Nostalgia: Lizzy McAlpine Performs Sold-Out Show at The Wiltern

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Indie-pop singer-songwriter Lizzy McAlpine performed a delightfully melancholy production for her sold-out tour, “THE END OF THE MOVIE” at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 11. Her human nature carried the concert as she demonstrated the same raw, relatable lyricism from her previous “five seconds flat” tour.

Olivia Barton opened the night, starting with a stripped version of her song, “Good Day” with only a guitar on stage. Her first show in Los Angeles, she proudly announced to the audience that her family was there to support. Her set was brief as she followed with a handful of sweet, simple tracks like, “I Don’t Sing My Songs,” “Control Freak” and “I Don’t Do Anything,” wrapping up with her most viral tune with corook “if i were a fish,” a silly track reminiscent of The Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson.

McAlpine’s stage was fashioned like a living room. Paned windows, picture frames, lamps on shelves and a couch with a blanket draped over the back dominated the space. The ambience provided a welcoming aura that made the audience feel like they were sitting in an intimate apartment. 

Between performers, the audience sang along to a pre-show playlist featuring Taylor Swift, Hannah Montana, Demi Lovato and Avril Lavigne, mingling with popcorn, drinks and candy sold by the venue. 

As McAlpine walked on-stage to perform, the audience let out deafening screams of delight, throwing their hands up in excitement. In a matching cream-colored shorts and bralette set, completed with a knit statement sweater and gold hoops, McAlpine wore cozy chic to match the stage behind her. 

With her first track “an ego thing,” McAlpine’s star quality was immediately apparent. Playing around with the riffs and notes within the song, she gave the audience a unique rendition. She sounded identical to her tracks, if not better, surprising the crowd. 

As the song wrapped, she went immediately into her next song, “Over-the-Ocean Call (Andrew).” The universality through her lyricism was apparent in these moments, many resonating and performing with McAlpine from the crowd.

“I’m gonna sing some songs for you — it’s gonna be a great time. This next one’s about slurpees” she said, introducing “all my ghosts.” The guitar strumming began with her vocals and slowly progressed into a beat that would inspire a late night adventure. 

Her lyrics are simple, yet heart-breakingly relatable as she pinpoints distinct feelings of nostalgia, grief, love and loss to an audience clinging to her every word. 

McAlpine’s set featured a healthy mix of throwback songs from her previous album “Give Me A Minute,” “five seconds flat,” and three unreleased songs. Her sound is just as pleasing to the naked ear as it is through headphones; emotions hang heavy in her lyrics, piercing clearly though the massive venue speakers. 

“I wrote this song in my college dorm room in Boston,” she said, prepping the audience for “Give Me A Minute,” the title track of her 2020 album. 

“I’m gonna start crying right now. My freshman year roommate, who is still my best friend, is here tonight. Wow, yeah. Shoutout to you Kenzie … She watched me write this whole album and was really there for me through all of this. It’s crazy that she’s here tonight, okay, I love you.” she said.

“ceilings” has garnered nation-wide recognition through TikTok and now retains a stream count of over 200 million listens. The song takes place in a daydream, imagining a relationship that no longer exists. One of her more popular songs, cameras rose into the air to try and catch the memory of an all-too-beautiful performance.

McAlpine also announced the presence of two unreleased songs, “Broken Glass” and “I Guess,” in her setlist, leading to a fresh wave of cheers from the crowd.

“I’m working very hard on the next record, and it’s sounding really good. We finished these songs right before tour started, so I was like ‘might as well put them on the set list,’” she said.

“Broken glass” is a song about the end of a relationship cycle where both parties realize they are at fault. “I Guess” featured audience interaction, where she made the crowd sing along with her crescendos. 

McAlpine continuously expressed her gratitude for the crowd, marveling in real time at how far she has come in such a short span of fame.

“This is really crazy for me because I started writing songs when I was 12 years old, just like sitting at my electric piano with my notebook out in front of me, and now I’m sitting in this huge room with all of you people, and you are choosing to spend your night with me, and I think that’s really cool,” she said. “You are one of the main reasons why I’m even here in the first place, so that is not lost on me, and I’m very grateful for all of you choosing to be here and holding the space for me and my art tonight. It means a lot, so thank you,” she said.

Instead of going off-stage and coming back on for an encore, McAlpine remained on stage, critiquing how silly it is that artists go through the performative show of leaving the stage at all when audiences know they’ll be returning not a minute later. She announced that there were three songs left: “Pancakes for Dinner,” another unreleased song and “orange show speedway.” 

McAlpine’s approach to performance is human and genuine, which only adds to her appeal as an artist. With two albums under her belt and gorgeous whimsy both on and off-stage, she is steadily growing as an artist and accumulating a massive, well-deserved following with each new project, release and show.

Lillian Dunn is an Arts & Entertainment Apprentice. She can be reached at lbdunn@uci.edu

Lexis Pham is an Arts & Entertainment Apprentice. She can be reached at lexisp@uci.edu