Billie Eilish plays Kingston’s Pryzm

The atmosphere in Pryzm is electric, stepping through the doors at the back of the hall, the crowd are already murmuring loudly between one another, faces turned towards the small stage at the front of the room. As Billie appears from behind the curtain, they begin screaming, the 17-year-old singer waving excitedly as she takes her place. She goes almost immediately into ‘bellyache’ from her 2017 EP ‘don’t smile at me’ and the crowd fall into pace with her, singing at the top of their lungs to every single lyric. It’s something I’ve never experienced at a gig, almost not being able to hear Billie over the roar of the audience’s voices.

‘idontwannabeyouanymore’ garners the same reaction, those gathered by the front of the stage are watching in awe as she pours her soul into the lyrics and it’s both beautiful and heart-breaking all at once. The fact that these songs are also being instrumentally played by one man and a piano adds to the emotion, any of the heavier tones being completely removed.

‘Copycat’ on the EP holds a soft trap base, snare and hat working together as one, but here in this room, it’s just Billie and the soft piano. One of the distinguishing factors of Billie Eilish’s singing ability is the fact that she can go from baritone to soprano in a single word, and the crowd replicate this almost flawlessly as one.

As the set is so short, Billie decides to pause between songs and interact with her audience, asking them to ask her questions. This makes it feel a lot more intimate, and relaxed, the entire place getting to know her on a more personal level. The atmosphere has also been incredibly relaxed from the beginning, and Billie doesn’t seem to care when she misses a queue or starts laughing mid-song; the crowd had her backed up anyways.

The next song, ‘bitches broken hearts’ is stripped down almost entirely from the original, but it adds a more emotional reaction once more.

This song was only added as a bonus to the extended version of ‘don’t smile at me’, but the audience still follows her impeccably.

‘ocean eyes’ is a song that sits heavily in my own heart, and hearing it here, for the first time live, brings tears to my eyes. The fact that this girl is only 17, and she can convey these types of emotions, is enthralling and wonderful. The rest of the audience seems to agree with me, singing loudly whilst looking on at Billie with wide eyes.

‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ will be released on the 29th of this month, and the next song ‘wish you were gay’ is the newest song to be released from it. At this gig, the song has only been released on Youtube for about 3 days, and yet as soon as it begins, that loud hum still follows from the crowd and Billie is visibly shocked by how well they know it already. The advantage of small shows like this is that a larger majority of this audience is here because of their love for the artist, and it certainly shows.

‘party favour’ is played solely by Billie on her bright yellow ukulele, the crowd following her with harmonies. This is one of my personal favourite tracks from ‘don’t smile at me’, and it’s just as charming live as it is at home, her softly sang words complimenting the cuteness of the ukulele she’s adorned.

‘bury a friend’ is another recently released track from Billie’s new album, and it’s very interesting to see live. Between verses on the original, there’s a male voice that speaks, and the crowd are quick to fill this role. Billie laughs as she’s singing, pointing her mic to the audience at these parts. This song shows the diversity and what she’s capable of with her more baritone vocal, and it’s quite different from what she’s done before.

The final song of the evening is ‘when the party’s over’, and that emotion bubbles to the surface once more. Both the lyrics and instrumentation are beautiful, and with the crowd singing loudly over the top of her is both visually and audibly stunning.

She stands up after she’s finished and jumps from the stage, standing up in front of her audience and reaching out to them, posing for pictures and holding their hands before smiling, throwing up a peace sign and bounding backstage. Overall, this gig left me feeling very emotional and connected to Billie as an artist, and I’m extremely excited to see what this new album has to bring.

‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ is available 29th March 2019.


Words by Bekky Smart

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