From America to Europe, singer Lizzy McAlpine is an expert at selling out shows.
Performing her sophomore album Five Seconds Flat, Pennsylvanian local McAlpine has been on the road since July for her first headline tour — a huge jump from songwriting in her bedroom just a few years ago.
McAlpine’s music carries a signature honesty in cascades of soft pop melodies and catchy indie instrumentals. Her earnestness is evidently intoxicating, as fans crowd iconic venues such as New York’s Webster Hall and Los Angeles’s Troubadour for her live performances.
“I honestly didn’t expect any of it,” said McAlpine in an interview with The Daily Californian. “I didn’t believe that (the tour) sold out for a very long time.”
McAlpine’s success is unexpected only to herself. After going viral on TikTok for an (uncompleted) original track “You Ruined The 1975,” songs on her debut album Give Me A Minute gained more than 100 million collective streams on Spotify. Anybody with a lick of sense could have seen her sold-out shows coming from a mile away.
As far as dream collaborations go, McAlpine was quick with her answer: “I’d love to do something with Matt Healy,” she said with a laugh. Clearly, The 1975 still holds a place in her heart.
Emotional to the bone, her songs explore the often overlooked and heartbreaking poetics of love and intimacy. For this very reason, every show McAlpine performs is a stripping of her barest soul.
“Touring is very difficult for me,” McAlpine said. “The shows are very draining emotionally. I tend to want to give all of myself when I’m performing the songs because they’re so personal and raw and real, and that’s who I am as an artist, but doing that every night is a lot.”
As she learns how to balance both displaying and reserving vulnerability, McAlpine remedies each show with some well-deserved alone time. She steps off stage and into her headphones, disconnecting from the world and connecting with herself.
While performing her songs becomes emotionally taxing, writing them is the most natural thing for McAlpine. Storyteller almost to a fault, baring her soul through her words and guitar has become routine.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about McAlpine’s artistry is how she tracks her very own progress. From 2020’s Give Me A Minute to this year’s Five Seconds Flat, listeners witness a clear evolution from an idyllic yearning to a deeper, more satisfying melancholy. Recognizing this trajectory, McAlpine acknowledges her very public personal growth and her relationship with her earlier works.
“There are songs that I think are cheesy and I hate playing now. But I think that’s just because I’m not the same person as I was when I wrote them. And it’s just hard for me to revisit that stuff when I know that that’s not who I am anymore,” McAlpine said.
One might argue that being a great artist requires allowing your art to belong to other people, and that is precisely what McAlpine has done. While her present self might cringe at the vision of her past self molded by her greatest hits, McAlpine seeks solace in passing the baton, knowing that though she no longer resonates with her former words, the rest of the world certainly does.
“(Those songs were) who I was at one point, which is why I play it on tour and why I want to honor it. I know that it’s connected with so many people and it’s really special,” McAlpine said. Though this intense connection is sometimes overwhelming to experience, she is grateful for every second of it.
McAlpine is already recording her next album — in fact, she started working on it in the middle of producing Five Seconds Flat. This pattern is familiar to McAlpine, as she started writing Five Seconds Flat while producing Give Me A Minute.
“There are always overlaps because I just write whenever I feel like I need to write. And then it’s pretty easy to tell where one album ends and the other one begins,” McAlpine said.
A master of momentum indeed, McAlpine definitely knows not to keep her fans waiting. Having collaborated with artists such as John Mayer, FINNEAS and Jacob Collier, it’s clear that McAlpine’s name is becoming familiar not only to fans, but to stars.
While McAlpine seems to be everywhere these days (in case you forgot: sold-out international shows), her heart is where it has always been: right next to her guitar.