“You’re my headliner!” screamed an ecstatic fan, jumping at the barricade. Narrowed in on her demanding choreography, Tinashe hardly paused her performance, but her smile spoke for itself.
The R&B frontrunner might have been the opening act for Flume on Sept. 8, but her flawless performance at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre constituted headliner material. Never short of natural virtuosity, charisma and impeccable swagger, Tinashe wasted no time making the Greek Theatre her own.
The crowd was seemingly warmed up after the evening’s first opening act, Tkay Maidza, and Tinashe quickly turned up the heat. As the sky darkened and the theater’s screens flickered to a countdown timer, four dancers in black cutout bodysuits strutted into view.
Tinashe emerged atop the stage’s highest platform, stunning in an oversized Harley-Davidson two-tone long-sleeve and bright silver pants. Her long red nails caught the light as she lifted the mic to her lips, shattering anticipation as “Ride of Your Life” roared into the speakers. Its smooth fade into “I Can See the Future” simmered into a contemplative, stirring introductory performance — an unexpected but artful launch to her nearly hour-long show.
All hands were on deck throughout Tinashe’s set. Never missing a beat, the star interlaced with her dancers seamlessly, letting pristine choreography transform her baseline performance into more of a spectacle. From crossed arms during “X” to getting low for “Bouncin,” the fun, often on-the-nose dance routine was a welcome stream of perpetual energy.
Though some might have mistaken the set’s nonstop nature as rushed, it was a considerable feat for Tinashe to squeeze nearly 20 songs into her set. Set times are rarely flexible, and in just under an hour, Tinashe had run through practically every hit in her catalog.
It was a surprise that she didn’t sneak in a single song from BB/ANG3L, however, considering the album had dropped not 24 hours before she took the Berkeley stage. BB/ANG3L marks the singer’s third LP release as an independent artist, and despite being unrepresented in the setlist, its essence remained present within the free-spiritedness of Tinashe’s performance.
Always front-and-center but never out of breath, Tinashe let her ambition lead the way as she satisfied her audience with oldies but goodies. From the eager allure of “X” and “2 On” to assertive party anthems like “Throw a Fit,” “Link Up” and “Cash Race,” the performer’s stamina was on full display.
The only element that Tinashe’s set lacked, however, was a crowd willing to give her the attention she not only deserved but quickly earned. Later, in an enthusiastic effort to engage the upsettingly low-energy audience, Tinashe walked to the farthest ends of the theater’s stage, close enough to touch audience members’ fingertips.
While the headliner’s show flourished with rotating guest stars and whirling graphics, Tinashe’s theatrics felt more grounded. She happily thrashed around with her guitarist during instrumental back-and-forths, and during the dual comfort and uncertainty of “All My Friends,” she hugged her backup dancers for more of an intimate sit down — contrasting an earlier festive spark, when they had all toasted and taken drinks from red solo cups.
As Tinashe immersed her audience in triumph, her radiance occasionally made way for her more gentle songs; the regretful hums of “Touch & Go” and “Like I Used To” offered respite between dance-heavy, high-energy tracks. But she ensured returning to characteristic buoyancy, and from the laidback “Naturally” to the slick “No Drama,” it was difficult not to be immersed in the performer’s luster.
Throughout her set, engaging graphics fluttered back and forth on the massive screen, from starry skies to colorful swirls to closeups of the singer’s face. From clean visuals to sharp choreography, Tinashe’s performance felt sleek — and even though it pushed a runtime of nearly one full hour, it still seemed to slip away swiftly.
Spotlighting her independence, tenacity and immeasurable talent, Tinashe’s opener set for Flume celebrated her discography’s evolution. Tinashe can certainly see the future, all she needs is a mirror.