Indie-pop artist Arlo Parks brought the “Collapsed in Sunbeams” tour to a sold-out crowd at the 9:30 Club Monday, delivering an exhilarating performance with her signature soft vocals and sultry guitar solos.
Even with a sold-out show, the venue provided an intimate setting for Parks to perform her debut album, “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” on her first-ever headlining tour following her 2018 debut single. The stage, laden with beautiful sunflowers, heightened the tight-knit atmosphere of the venue and produced an ethereal effect as Parks’ delicate yet intense vocals flooded the audience.
Parks first arrived on the music scene following the release of her debut single “Cola” in November 2018. Since then, the success of songs like “Eugene” and “Softly” has helped her build a following of indie-pop fans, assisted by support from more well-known indie-pop artists like Clairo. A United Kingdom native, Parks has experienced great success domestically with “Collapsed in Sunbeams” – the album reached number three on the UK Official Albums Chart in November just five weeks after its release, pushing her to win Breakthrough Artist in 2021 at the BRIT Awards.
After waiting eagerly for Parks to appear 30 minutes after opener Del Water Gap left the stage, the crowd erupted into thunderous cheers as the songstress made her way to the stage to perform her comforting, uplifting track “Green Eyes.” The song, which reflects on homophobia and queer romance, had the crowd entranced from start to finish.
Parks continued the show with songs “Bluish” and “Caroline,” the latter of which drove the entire venue to passionately scream the titular name throughout the chorus per Parks’ request. Seated in the photo pit for the first three songs, I could feel the fervor radiating not only from the crowd behind me but also from Parks on stage, particularly during the electrifying performance of the fan-favorite track. Parks was visibly emotional through her facial expressions and captivating movements.
Before Parks embarked on her first headlining tour, I had the pleasure of seeing her at The Anthem in February when she opened for Clairo’s “Sling” tour. It was my first time seeing Parks live, and as an opening act, she enlivened the audience with a toned-down, relaxed set that placed her laid-back personality at the forefront and kept the audience in tune for the main act.
After the thrilling performance of “Caroline,” Parks performed “Eugene” – Parks’ most streamed hit on Spotify and the song that introduced me to the singer-songwriter in early 2021. The song caught the attention of fellow superstar Dua Lipa, who released a cover of the song last year in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, which amassed more than half a million views. “Eugene” was undoubtedly a crowd pleaser. The audience belted its painful lyrics about unrequited love, packed with collective emotion.
The concert continued to flow seamlessly from one song to the next, with recurring themes of healing, catharsis and self-love in songs like “Black Dog,” “Hurt” and “Hope” along with “Too Good” – a groovy throwback that had the audience moving. Parks closed the show with my personal favorite song of hers, “Softly,” an upbeat anthem about bracing for impact in the face of a relationship’s inevitable demise. Parks somehow combines optimistic production with devastating lyrical elements in a way that makes heartbreak feel cathartic – even if just for a few minutes.
By the final song, she left the crowd enthralled by her ability to capture the pure emotions that so many felt in her thoughtful songwriting. With serene vocals and a charismatic persona, Parks put on an unforgettable show and showcased her genuine love for performing with her dazzling smile that charmed the audience all the way through.