“They gon’ put me in a madhouse,” 20-year-old singer-songwriter Nessa Barrett crooned, strutting on stage with a high ponytail and leather jacket. Following the release of her debut studio album Young Forever, Barrett stopped at San Francisco’s Masonic on March 19 as part of her headlining tour.
At 8:30 p.m. sharp, blazing neon blue lights engulfed the venue, and Isabel LaRosa and her brother Thomas danced out on stage to open for the widely anticipated Young Forever tour. The sister and brother held a microphone and guitar, respectively, receiving a warm welcome from the crowd. Known on TikTok for her viral 2022 single “I’m Yours,” LaRosa and her brother form a dynamic duo of singer-songwriter and producer.
“Haunted,” the first song to grace the audience for the night, serves as the lead single for LaRosa’s debut EP. “I’m haunted, haunted, haunted,” LaRosa lamented, the delivery highly evocative and emotional. Before professing her gratitude for Barrett, LaRosa presented her version of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” and members of the audience erupted joyously in sing-along fashion.
Similarly to LaRosa, Barrett also had her breakthrough on TikTok in 2019, where she was regularly posting viral content. Eventually, this landed her a Warner Records recording contract. With her 2021 hit single “I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead,” which made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100, Barrett continues to make remarkable strides for a young artist within the pop music industry.
“I still love you even though we decayed,” Barrett gently sang, meditating on her everlasting affection toward her ex-lover. Sultry vocals lace the lyrics of “Decay,” which was first teased on Barrett’s Instagram stories back in 2022. As Barrett almost whispered the last lines in the song, “Even after, even after we decay,” the stage fell into darkness.
In a more intimate, personal gesture, Barrett took a brief intermission, sitting down to acknowledge all the love and support her fans have given her throughout her journey of becoming an artist. “You, me, we are all God’s favorite,” Barrett said, alluding to her next song on the setlist, “God’s Favorite.” Radiating warmth and sunshine, Barrett brought an effervescent charm to the halls of The Masonic, uplifting the community of supporters around her.
Messages of vulnerability and resiliency live at the core of the song, a track about believing in being “god’s favorite” due to her overcoming seemingly insurmountable hardships. In the past, Barrett has been vocal about her struggles and mental health growing up. Thus, her songs have largely been a reflection of her personal relationships and struggles, including moving to Los Angeles against her parents’ wishes at age 17. Despite her difficulties, Barrett utilizes songwriting and social media as a personal outlet to raise awareness around promoting mental health and spreading love.
Reminiscent of bits and pieces from artists such as Melanie Martinez, Billie Eilish and The Neighbourhood, a central issue plaguing multiple tracks from the setlist lay in their indistinct tonality. With one pop-rock anthem following the other, the setlist lacks some form of diversity. That being said, Barrett’s three-minute track, “Lovebomb” was a refresher to her routine rock beats, swapping them out for light guitar strumming and soothing vocals.
Barrett’s debut studio album tour largely caters to her young fan base, including individual hits that shine brighter among her congruous sounding tracklist. As a brilliant way to close off the night, she performed her widely beloved track “I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead.” The boisterous instrumentals, engaging lyrics and Barrett’s candor and charm were truly endearing, radiating beams throughout the concert halls; it was difficult not to be captivated by her sweet, contagious aura.