CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Standing in the front row of a Gracie Abrams concert, fans might expect a great view of the show and maybe a chance to touch the artist’s hand if they’re lucky. They probably wouldn’t expect the singer to reach out and borrow their funky glasses, sing happy birthday to them, say hello to their baby on FaceTime, or challenge them to a game of rock paper scissors. But Abrams did it all, entertaining a crowd of rapt fans with personal engagement.
Abrams played a sold-out show at The Sinclair in Cambridge on Feb. 12. At her first show in Boston, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter performed some of her biggest hits, including “I miss you, I’m sorry” and “Unlearn.”
Alix Page opened for Abrams. Two of Page’s high school friends accompanied her on drums and bass while Page played guitar. Page and her friends grinned with pride on stage, displaying their tight-knit friendship. Page played “Radiohead,” a euphoric cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag,” and an unreleased piece.
Although she is not a big name in the music industry, Page’s sweetness and conspicuous enthusiasm won over her audience. Fans mingled excitedly following her performance.
When The Sinclair’s blue lights dimmed, the hum of the crowd turned to a roar.
Abrams ran onstage to the tune of “Feels Like.” Joyously grinning and touching hands with audience members, Abrams vivaciously traversed the width of the stage and looked delighted to perform.
“I love Boston, are you kidding me?” Abrams said. “I’m so happy to be here it hurts me.”
Throughout the concert, Abrams’ care for her audience was palpable, and the audience’s love for her was even more poignant. Every time Abrams extended a hand to her fans, 20 or more hands reached back. Screams of support and earnest expressions of their love punctuated the singer’s pauses. Fans gifted Abrams bracelets, a letter, and a crochet hat, and Abrams threw her setlist into the audience.
Rhythmic percussion and guitar propelled Abrams’ upbeat numbers, including “The Bottom.” But it was her breathy-yet-powerful voice that defined sensitive songs such as “Long Sleeves.”
Featuring vocals that sounded like rolling waves with their combination of low-register verses and high-reaching choruses, the writer’s autobiographical ballads felt both intimate and like they were meant for the stage. Perhaps this is why she is often labeled as a “bedroom pop” artist, but Abrams’ music felt just as appropriate in a concert hall as it does in her Instagram videos.
Abrams, who will open for Olivia Rodrigo on her Sour tour, brought a positive light to her melancholic pieces. Songs like “Friend” and “I miss you, I’m sorry” became opportunities for her to connect with the audience, and Abrams expressed her gratitude for her fans.
“Knowing that like the feelings that I felt and was like anxiously scribbling down all the time, other people felt that too, so thank you for being those people for me,” Abrams said.
The Sinclair’s 500-capacity concert hall facilitated this connection. Kayla Nguyen, a freshman at Northeastern who attended the concert, said she appreciated the venue’s smaller size.
“I really like it. It’s intimate,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s cool how close people can get with the artist themselves.”
After Abrams made an abrupt exit from the stage, audience members began to chant her name. But soon after, Abrams ran back onstage to finish out the show. She joked about having pranked the audience before announcing that she had a few more songs to play.
Abrams closed the concert with “For Real This Time,” a piece about realizing when it’s time to move on from a relationship and connected to the audience as the show came to a close.
“A thousand times, I got up to say goodbye,” she sang. “I could be wrong, but I think that I’m for real this time.”
Featured Image by Holly Branco / for The Heights