Crowd is infatuated by H.E.R. in “Every Kind of Way” at House of Blues

Crowd is infatuated by H.E.R. in “Every Kind of Way” at House of Blues

Written by Olivia Oriaku

The heavy rain and the undeniably biting, cold wind didn’t stop eager concertgoers from waiting in what seemed like a never-ending line outside House of Blues on Nov. 26. Their excitement was for R&B sensation Gabriella Wilson, better known by her stage name, H.E.R., who would be performing that night as part of the “I Used To Know Her” tour. The 21-year-old singer’s identity was only recently revealed to the public, as she undoubtedly believes that the music she creates should be what her fans are focusing on, rather than her physical appearance.

Photos by Olivia Oriaku

Before Wilson took the stage, hip-hop/rap artist Bri Steves hyped up the crowd by playing some of her 2018 singles, including “Regrets,” “Ain’t S**t,” “Miami,” and “Jealousy.” Her music, which blends 90s rap with more contemporary hip-hop and R&B hybrid sounds, captivated audience members, their bodies swaying rhythmically to Steves’ passionate verses and heavy trap-inspired beats.

A short break later and Wilson—wearing cargo pants, a green, velour Adidas track jacket, and sunglasses to shield part of her face—stepped out onto center stage. The crowd’s thunderous screams could be heard as soon as the stage lights came up and the first harmonized chords of “Be On My Way (Interlude),” a song off of her newest EP, “I Used to Know Her: Part 2,” was played. Next was Wilson’s 2017 single “2,” followed by crowd-pleasers “Feel Away,” “Against Me,” and “Could’ve Been,” all tracks off of her new EP.

“So how many of you listened to Vol. 2?” Wilson said, right before jumping straight into the chorus of “Still Down,” a song from her second album, “H.E.R. Vol. 2.” As the stage lights brightened, the song abruptly changed and Wilson dropped into singing the fan-favorite “Lights On,” as the dedicated crowd danced and chanted along word for word. Toward the end of the track, Wilson encouraged audience members to turn their phone lights on and lift them up, illuminating the venue in what looked like a thousand tiny stars. Next was the popular “Say It Again,” followed by “Wait For It,” a track off of her first album, “H.E.R. Vol. 1.” Untraditionally, a punchy beat was added over the soft piano chords on this track, contributing to her already relaxed, rhythmic set.

Photo by Olivia Oriaku

Wilson continued on with “Best Part,” a song she wrote with Daniel Caesar, before transitioning into Lauryn Hill’s “Nothing Even Matters,” where her smooth, hypnotizing vocals were showcased. Wilson also covered Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain,” and ended the song by playing a guitar solo, demonstrating her talent not just as a singer, but as an instrumentalist.

Toward the end of Wilson’s set, she played “Hard Place” and “I’m Not OK,” both intimate songs off of her new EP. During “I’m Not OK,” small spotlights, which appeared to be coming in almost every direction, illuminated the artist and the keyboard she played on as her soulful voice echoed off of the venue’s walls.

As the arpeggio chords of “Focus” began to play, the crowd sang along and moved to the pulse of the song’s beat. The undulating lights and the singer’s smooth runs made audience members feel as if they were in a mirage. Next, Wilson played her well-known song, “Every Kind of Way,” before shifting into “Changes,” to the crowd’s excitement.

“I love you so much Boston. You have some good food here, and most importantly, you have beautiful people,” Wilson said. “I get on this stage, and you guys give me this crazy energy and crazy love. Thank you guys for letting me live out my dream.”

Wilson kissed the crowd goodbye and exited the stage—but not for long. In a crowd-grabbing encore, the artist ran back onto the stage, ending her set with the upbeat, groovy “Lost Souls,” a song off her new EP, where her rapping capabilities were revealed. Undoubtedly, the young, multitalented artist left both devoted fans and new listeners speechless and completely inspired by her performance.

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