Review: SZA shows Ybor she’s in full CTRL at a sold-out Orpheum (w/photos)

All all-too short set from R&B's brightest new star.

click to enlarge SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017. - Gabby Santos
Gabby Santos
SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017.

Fans lucky enough to get a ticket to see Solana Imani Rowe got a big treat as the 26-year-old singer better known as SZA played a sold-out set in support of her major label debut, CTRL.

Admirers from all over the state flocked to the Orpheum just to soak in SZA’s essence and some even paid extra for a meet and greet where they got to experience the kindness and relatability of what is one of R&B’s brightest new stars. Rowe was just as impressed with the fans.

“The energy in this town is so beautiful,” she said with a gigantic smile at one point in the concert. "I wish I could’ve met you all.”

It was hard not to feel like you knew SZA after the short set, however, and the crowd was fully invested from the opening moments of “Super Model” to the rapped verses of “Love Galore” and “Doves In The Wind” when fans filled in beautifully for the bars Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar deliver on the record.

SZA even turned the clock back for pre-CTRL fans during a performance of “Child’s Play” where the singer’s ethereal vocal was virtually drowned out by a chorus of voices coming from the crowd. The young performer is seasoned enough to back off when she needs to, but her raw, angelic sound rang loud and clear through the house P.A. as SZA sang anthems for the insecure, heartbroken, lost 20/30/40 somethings who have been singing these songs all summer.

The set, perhaps by design, ended with the anticlimactic “20 Something,” and as the house lights brightened to end hopes of an encore, you had to feel pretty good about getting to see SZA high kick across that stage with full pink hair flowing all night. You definitely wanted more.

You won’t get to see SZA in a room that small ever again, but we’re confident she’ll be as unfettered and brilliant no matter where she lands.

click to enlarge SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017. - Gabby Santos
Gabby Santos
SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017.


click to enlarge SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017. - Gabby Santos
Gabby Santos
SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017.


click to enlarge SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017. - Gabby Santos
Gabby Santos
SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017.


click to enlarge SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017. - Gabby Santos
Gabby Santos
SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017.


click to enlarge SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017. - Gabby Santos
Gabby Santos
SZA plays Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on October 8, 2017.


About The Authors

Gabby Santos

Surfin' her own wave and available for advertising, creative, commercial and professional photography.

Jelinna-Marie Z. Rances

New York born and Florida raised, Jelinna hails from Lakeland, FL. She is a music lover, closet rapper, community radio DJ, and freelance writer. Oh, and she’s a pharmacist. She loves traveling, boxing, and the occasional yoga class.

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