Doja Cat Lights Up L.A. with ‘Scarlet Tour’: Gig review | MarkMeets Music News

As the “Scarlet Tour” by Doja Cat landed in Los Angeles’ Arena on a Thursday evening, fans eagerly anticipated what her first-ever arena headlining shows had in store. Title cards graced the big screens, outlining the tour as a five-act spectacle. However, the audience wondered whether these act divisions would lead to extravagant costume changes and elaborate production designs, typical of diva-style tours.

To the surprise of many, Doja Cat’s tour wasn’t a parade of extravagant costume changes or elaborate sets. Instead, her approach was more understated and focused on subtlety. Throughout the hour-and-a-half performance, the singer donned just two distinct costumes, with a single dominant color theme. Unlike artists like Taylor Swift, Doja Cat remained committed to her “Scarlet” era.

The tour’s strong emphasis on her latest album, “Scarlet,” released in September, was evident from the beginning. The setlist predominantly featured 15 of the 17 songs from “Scarlet,” along with a handful from her earlier albums “Planet Her,” “Hot Pink,” and “Amala.” This prioritization of freshly released material was a bold move, especially considering she would spend most of the evening in a striking crimson bodysuit that mimicked internal musculature while bathed in red lighting.

At first glance, the focus on a brand-new album and a single color theme might not sound like a compelling reason to purchase a ticket. However, experiencing the show live revealed the genius behind this approach. Doja Cat’s performance was a testament to her artistry and visual creativity, a stark departure from the trend of constant change and maximalism seen in tours by artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Madonna. Despite its visceral, anatomy-inspired costume design, the Scarlet Tour was a captivating and visually stunning experience.

While some might debate whether Doja Cat truly bared her inner self, complete with internal organs, during the performance, her interactions with the audience were minimal. She occasionally expressed her love for her fans but rarely engaged in extensive conversations. In one amusing moment, she asked the audience to turn off their phone lights, resulting in a comical misunderstanding as they illuminated the arena. These sporadic interactions offered a glimpse of her personality, but given her unpredictable social media presence, a more talkative stage persona might have posed its own challenges.

Nevertheless, the absence of extended monologues did not hinder the show’s impact. The Scarlet Tour was all about creating a vibe, and overly chatty interludes might have disrupted that atmosphere. Despite occasional sound issues that made some lyrics less intelligible, the focus on mood and visuals enhanced the overall experience.

The first two acts of the show were dedicated to Doja Cat’s aggressive hip-hop side, emphasizing her recent shift in that direction. While the fan-favorite “Agora Hills” blended rap and singing, the initial focus was on asserting her rap credentials. She aimed to dispel the notion that her pop success with “Planet Her” had overshadowed her skills as a rapper. Although Doja Cat made a compelling case for her rap prowess, the highly competitive nature of the rap genre made it challenging for her more boastful or taunting tracks to stand out.

The tour and the album both started on an assertive note, with Doja Cat determined to establish herself as a serious rapper. Act II featured the hit “Ain’t Shit” from “Planet Her,” a song that encouraged audience participation but presented a lyrical challenge due to its explicit content. Act III introduced a nostalgic segment with songs from “Planet Her” and her earlier hit “Say So.” Surprisingly, these hits felt substantially different from their original versions, offering fresh arrangements that delighted the audience.

The show’s midpoint was a gateway to the softer, more R&B-infused side of Doja Cat, accompanied by hits from “Hot Pink” and other tracks. Her seamless transition between sultry R&B and rap within the same song showcased her exceptional versatility. As the performance progressed, the imagery became more captivating, departing from the initial eerie atmosphere. The show reached its zenith in Act V with the new song “Wet Vagina,” featuring lyrics that left little to the imagination.

A noteworthy aspect of the show was Doja Cat’s costume choices. She began with a black jacket and a breastplate with 3D breasts, offering a striking visual effect. However, for the majority of the performance, she appeared as if she had been stripped of her skin, resembling a medical illustration. This bold choice could be seen as a feminist statement or a pragmatic decision to ensure her presence reached every corner of the arena.

In terms of props, the show was relatively minimalist for a contemporary diva’s tour. Red ribbons dropped from the rafters in one segment, and an introductory giant spider added to the eerie atmosphere. The most significant prop was a giant eyeball with legs and an optic nerve. This peculiar addition did not pose a threat to Doja Cat but rather befriended her for a few moments, adding an unexpected twist to the performance.

A highlight of the Scarlet Tour was the use of dancers and choreography, setting it apart from other major tours. Doja Cat, known for her admiration of dancers like FKA Twigs, incorporated this physicality into her show, creating a unique and captivating experience. The dancers’ costumes contrasted with the overall red theme, resembling post-apocalyptic ragamuffins with ripped, patchwork attire. Their dynamic movements, including semi-moonwalking and freestyle solos, deviated from the typical sexualized dance moves commonly seen in other tours. A notable moment featured the dancers circling and crawling over Doja Cat in a manner that playfully hinted at intimate interaction.

In conclusion, the “Scarlet Tour” by Doja Cat delivered a dynamic and visually captivating concert experience. Her bold choices, from the emphasis on her new album to the striking costume design, showcased her commitment to artistic expression. Despite limited verbal interactions with the audience, the show’s focus on mood, visuals, and inventive choreography made it a memorable and engaging performance. The Scarlet Tour was a testament to Doja Cat’s artistry and ability to craft a unique concert experience that stood out in the world of contemporary pop tours.

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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