Fresh off her first sold-out headlining tour in North America, Zolita said the Boston stop held a special place in her heart.
“Boston was my favorite so far,” Zolita, whose real name is Zoë Montana Hoetzel, said.
Special enough, apparently, to perform a live debut of her single “Grave,” which was released on May 31, at her set at Boston Calling on May 27.
“This is for all the betrayed girlies,” Zolita said before performing “Grave” for the first time.
“Grave” is a pop song about keeping the secrets of a past lover even though they betrayed you. She started off the song by singing wistfully about a past relationship before transitioning into speaking about how the feelings turned sour. Even though the relationship ended badly, Zolita said she will keep all their private moments and secrets to herself.
“And you’re lucky, you’re lucky, you’re lucky / I’ll take that shit to my grave,” Zolita sang.
While Zolita is still an up-and-coming artist, her set at Boston Calling demonstrated her artistry while leaving room for what she can accomplish in the future, both as a pop star and a voice for the LGBTQ+ community.
For her festival performance, Zolita stepped onto the Blue Stage wearing a red Vale State jersey and metallic-coated jeans. She began her set singing “I F—king Love You,” one out of a trilogy of songs whose videos of a queer love affair propelled the alt-pop singer into the spotlight.
In an interview with The Heights, Zolita said that Boston was one of her favorite tour stops because it contained many special moments. One of which is when she met a lesbian couple who got engaged to the song “I F—king Love You” and got the title tattooed on their arms in Zolita’s handwriting.
Zolita then transitioned into her single “20 Questions,” another upbeat song about uncertainty in a relationship. This track has more of a rock vibe to it than the rest of her discography. She danced around on the stage going toward the audience on each side and interacted with every aspect of her crowd. Toward the end of the song, Zolita commanded the crowd to jump, and a sea of heads began to move to the beat of the song.
Zolita produces, edits, and directs all of her music videos, so she said that aesthetics are a key player when organizing her live shows as well. According to the singer, she tries to loop certain elements from the videos, including audio and visual loops, into her live performances.
The only instruments accompanying Zolita were a pair of drums and a guitar. The backdrop displayed the female gender symbol in silver with the name Zolita imposed over it. The fiery symbol faded in and out of the backdrop as Zolita performed her set. For certain songs, including “Crazy Ex” and “Ruin My Life,” Zolita played the accompanying music video on the backdrop.
“This song is about a hot summer love but you’re kinda sad when September rolls around and you’re still single,” Zolita said before playing “Single In September.”
During this song, Zolita took off her jersey to reveal a strappy bikini top that matched the beach background of the “Single In September” music video. Zolita’s music is upbeat, creating a feel-good atmosphere throughout the crowd at her performances. In contrast to rowdier groups that other artists attract, Zolita’s crowd seemed engaged, yet more mellow. Instead of jumping around in a mosh pit, most fans subtly swayed to the beat of the song or bopped their heads while screaming the lyrics back at Zolita.
Zolita opted for a more stripped down tone for her next song “Ashley.” Zolita pulled out her stool and played the song with just her and her guitar. She said she always tries to incorporate a stripped down guitar moment in each of her sets.
“I wrote [this song] for my girlfriend but I also wrote it for my younger self because I know that having a song like this would’ve helped me growing up,” Zolita said before playing “Ashley.”
Zolita said that “Ashley,” for her, is like the queer version of “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. She said that growing up, hearing artists like Taylor Swift perform songs written by men about a girl, but not change the pronouns, gave her a sense of representation in music.
“There’s so much more representation [now],” Zolita said. “The song ‘Ashley,’ if I would have had that when I was younger, it would have just helped me so much to hear the girls talking about another girl and use [their] name.”
Zolita furthered this representation in her set with the inclusion of the music videos. In addition to singing about queer relationships, she also played clips showing queer love in the background of her performance.
Zolita finished off her set with a cover of “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood, calling it the greatest breakup song of all time, and “Somebody I F—ked Once,” her breakout single.
This summer Zolita will embark on another North American Tour with Bebe Rexha. Zolita said for future songs, instead of going in the pop and country direction of the last two songs she played, she sees herself transitioning back into a darker pop territory, like she did with her first EP Immaculate Conception.
“I kind of feel like it’s a nice mix of like, maybe a little more optimism I’ve been putting out recently but it kind of is a little bit like the darkness of my earliest called Immaculate Conception and kind of has that energy,” Zolita said.