Doja Cat delivered a bit of a mixed trick-o-treat bag as she kicked off her first-ever arena headlining tour on Halloween night at Chase Center in San Francisco.
The Cat woman, herself, was mostly on point, sounding especially strong as she showcased her rapping abilities. She’s a real talent, one that should be a force in the industry for years to come.
Yet, she also showed her inexperience in the arena realm as she did very little try to connect with the crowd or make the evening feel “live” on Night 1 of the Scarlet Tour, which supports the 2023 album of the same name.
Instead, it often just felt like we were just watching something like “Doja Cat: The Concert Movie,” which — who knows? — could be heading to a theater near you in the not-so-distant future.
More significant, the touring production — while arena-style big and surprisingly Halloween appropriate — wasn’t as thrilling as it should have been. There was a numbing sameness to everything that took place on stage over the course of the 90-minute set, even though the production was divided up into 5 (allegedly) different acts.
In short, the concert grew less interesting as the night progressed — which is never a good thing.
The concert was, however, the definite place to be Halloween 2023 in the Bay Area, drawing a full house of some 14,000 fans to the arena. And the crowd was definitely filled with world-famous characters, ranging from Freddy Krueger and Chucky to Mario and Luigi to Ken and Barbie to the Joker and the Riddler.
There were also cats of all shapes and sizes — including at least one Cat in the Hat — and seemingly at least as many cows (tying in with the Doja Cat song/viral internet meme “Moo!”) in this colorful crowd, where at least every other person was in costume for the Halloween/Doja occasion.
The star’s set — which begin right at 8:30 and concluded at the surprisingly early hour of 10 p.m. — got off to a strong start as Doja Cat appeared onstage and delivered a breathtaking version of “WYM Freestyle,” one of 15 “Scarlet” tracks featured on the night.
Things continued along the same route throughout Act I, as Doja Cat commanded the triangular stage, which pointed out to the audience, while propelled by a stellar band. The music translated very well to the live arena, conveying the clarity of the studio version while ratcheting up the energy a little bit.
This review is being updated. Please check back.
Here’s the setlist, based on my notes and information from setlist.fm:
1 WYM Freestyle
3. Tia Tamera
5. Agora Hills
8. Red Room
11. Ain’t (expletive)
13. Say So
14. “Get Into It (Yuh)”
15. “Need to Know”
16. “Kiss Me More”
17. “Paint the Town Red”
19. “(Expletive) the Girls (FTG)”
21. “Can’t Wait”
22. “Go Off”
24. “Wet Vagina”