R&B star SZA stops by Austin's Moody Center on first arena tour
Whether Austinites missed SZA at Austin City Limits Festival or have simply missed her since, the R&B singer is gracing the city with her suave presence on March 9, at the Moody Center. The sleek new arena is selling out — and blowing similar venues out of the water on ticket sales — but so far SZA (pronounced “sizzah,” like “scissor”) stands out; this may be an uncharacteristically sexy show for the seemingly straight-laced venue.
SZA’s performance at ACL included some of the steamiest choreography the festival has seen, but the singer usually appears more reserved onstage, using slow, relaxed body language that feels more aligned with her languorous songwriting. She is touring in support of her second studio album, SOS, which is heralded for its nuance, both in its colloquial complexity and freedom from genre conventions. One review by the New York Times lauds the 23-track collection’s “unpredictable and emotionally charged flow.”
Even non-fans who spend enough time on social media would likely recognize “I Hate U,” a lilting, pouting track about giving a lover a taste of their own medicine. “And if you wondered if I hate you (I do),” starts many TikTok videos in a trend exposing common cultural gripes. (“Sh*tty of you to make me feel just like this/What I would do to make you feel just like this.”)
SZA was also featured on the upbeat Doja Cat earworm “Kiss Me More,” representing her biggest chart success yet (reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100), and perhaps even going as far as cementing a newly dominant style of dreamy, conversational, bubblegum R&B.
All this talk of a casual style may make it sound like SZA is singing with her head in the clouds, but more accomplishments include numerous awards and nominations, and collaborations with artists in a wide range of styles, such as Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, and Willow, among many others. Latin Grammy nominee — this time for Best New Artist — Omar Apollo opens the Moody Center show with similarly gentle, experimental tunes in more eclectic styles.
Despite seeming relatively new to the scene at a glance — given the sophomore album, recent string of high points, and relative newness at playing supersized venues — SZA has spent a decade in the industry since dropping her debut EP, See.SZA.Run. In addition to her seemingly endless list of features and collaborations, she has songwriting credits with superstars like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé. The 33-year-old also has a few extra years on many pop artists releasing second albums, and has adopted a franker, more assertive singing style than in previous releases.
SZA will be at Moody Center in Austin on March 9, 2023, followed by American Airlines Center in Dallas on March 10, 2023. Tickets go on sale on December 16 at noon, at moodycenteratx.com.