Billie Eilish makes Birmingham ‘Happier Than Ever’

Alyssa Schubert, Contributing Writer

Rain poured down as concert-goers ran across the street to the Legacy Arena on Tuesday night, March 8. The gloomy setting, however, did not represent the mood radiating off of the long line of people anxiously awaiting Billie Eilish to make her Birmingham debut. 

Strobing lights ricocheted around the arena as Eilish sprang up from out of the stage in her oversized, paint-splattered T-shirt and matching bike shorts. The crowd erupted into hysteria as she opened the show with her eerie single, “Bury a Friend,” all while being bathed in red light. 

The seven-time Grammy award-winning artist first stepped into the music scene when she and her brother, Finneas O’Connell, uploaded the single “Ocean Eyes” to the streaming service Soundcloud. Eilish collected a million streams overnight and continued to make waves in the industry when she released her first EP, “Don’t Smile at Me.”

The 20-year-old is known for her edgy and dark style, with her songs having matching undertones. In recent years, she has been very vocal about her struggle with depression and how her songs reflect what she was going through. 

Nightmarish visuals accompanied Eilish as she performed through the songs from her chilling freshman album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

However, the monsters quieted in her most recent album, “Happier Than Ever,” which shifts into a more subdued state of mind, one that resembles the healing process. The sultry sound of songs like “Billie Bossa Nova” mixed with the silken voice of Eilish produced a vintage feel to the work as a whole. 

The Oscar-nominated artist told Vice that the namesake of her world tour encapsulates the last few years of her life. She explained the irony of the album cover, the glittery tear running down her melancholic face, and how it means doing better, not necessarily being the happiest you ever will be. 

The set list encompassed that idea, with somber ballads being back-to-back with zestful anthems, all blending together seamlessly. Moments of peace were followed by those of pandemonium, all while Eilish commanded the room with her infectious enthusiasm. 

“Usually this is the part where I would tell you that I like to jump around and go crazy, but now I don’t have to do that!” she exclaimed halfway through the set list. 

In between the twirling and rowdy jumping of Eilish were instants of relaxation, when she requested her fans to take a seat and rest while she sang acoustic songs. Not only did it give both parties time to catch their breath, it also represented Eilish as a whole. Instead of the gloomy disposition she admitted to having on her 2019 tour, she was jubilant and floating across the angular stage. 

Eilish strives for authenticity, never letting a moment go by without telling her fans how much they mean to her. In her 2021 documentary, “The World’s a Little Blurry,” she described her following not as fans, but as friends — people who are a part of her. 

“The world is in pretty bad shape right now and I just wanted to let you know that I see you and I love you and I am always here for you. This song is for you,” she said before she began her emotional single, “Everything I Wanted.

Cameras swooped through the arena capturing fans to put on the massive video boards behind Eilish as she sang. Images of sentiment and vulnerability appeared, from people crying and hugging each other to others reveling in the presence of their favorite artist. 

“I am being completely honest with you, Birmingham, this has been one of my favorite shows I have ever done,” Eilish said as she began to sing her final song, the title track, “Happier Than Ever.”

A blizzard of white confetti rained down from the ceiling. Thousands of hands stretched upward, hoping to grasp a keepsake from the show. A feeling of euphoria swept through the room full of strangers as the finale began to pick up tempo. The room shook as the dedicated masses screamed the lyrics “You made me hate this city.” After two years of waiting, Billie Eilish was finally able to send her fan base home “happier than ever.”