Meghan Trainor / Photo: Kevin Kinder
To take in a Meghan Trainor concert, you need to know something above all else. The still newly minted pop star is 22 years old. She’s 22!
As far as pop stars goes, that puts her comfortably below some of her contemporaries, those instant-sold-out-arena names like Taylor, Rihanna and Katy.
Trainor hasn’t sold out arenas just yet, but perhaps she’s getting there. Her set last night at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion was indeed a sold-out affair, and she thanked the crowd for being the largest on her entire “Untouchable” tour, which finds her traveling the country with guests Hailee Steinfeld and Common Kings. That says something about Trainor’s rising star in the pop world, but also about Northwest Arkansas. This isn’t the first artist to have highest-on-the-tour sales at the venue in Rogers. We’re quite literally packing the house, often times more so than other music markets.
Trainor is new to the game, but the on-stage poise found her quickly. Remember, less than two years ago, no one knew her name with the exception of family members. It wasn’t until September 2014 that she released the EP that contained “All About That Bass,” the funky, silly, cute song that is quintessential Meghan Trainor, who is also funky, silly and cute. Alternately praised as an empowerment anthem and decried for skinny shaming and being antifeminist, “All About That Bass” became a viral hit anyway. The internet is a complicated place.
Meghan Trainor, through it all, remains … young, someone still growing up, figuring it out. And if we give her credit for one thing at all, it’s that she’s honest and open and real (despite a backing track for her vocals that played underneath several songs so she could riff around it). She talked about her mom. She talked about her dad, and when we heard her sing “Dance Like Your Daddy” we watched video images show her dancing with her dad. Similarly, images of her hanging out with friends were displayed during her song “Friends.”
Next at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion
Who: 21 Pilots with MuteMath and Chef’Special
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 3
Where: Arkansas Music Pavilion, Rogers
Cost: Starting at $30
Tickets: Sold Out Call 479-443-5600 or visit arkansasmusicpavilion.com for information.
What we watched on a muggy Tuesday night was hardly so cut-and-dry and literal, however. Art rarely is. And as art, Meghan Trainor falls pretty squarely into the middle of the pack. She’s a very capable vocalist, but not overwhelming.
So if Trainor and her band isn’t high art, it leaves her to deliver a message and a spectacle. As a spectacle, there was much more happening. Dancers accompanied her for many tracks, and confetti rained from the sky. Trainor danced often, and had at least three costume changes. And at 20 songs without much of a break, it was a high-paced affair.
It leaves us where she left us – with the encore performance of the song “No.” In the 90 minutes of her set, Trainor took us from writing a letter to her future husband and blowing kisses to her exes to firmly telling new suitors no thanks. I think we’ve yet to learn what Trainor will grow into, and she’s got a lot of years in the spotlight ahead of her.
Likewise, actress/model/pop singer Hailee Steinfeld had opening duties. She first drew attention as a precocious crime fighter and revenge seeker in the Coen Brothers’ remake of the movie “True Grit.” She’s since launched a pop career and released an EP called “Haiz,” a phrase proudly emblazoned on her hat. Steinfeld got 30 minutes on stage, as did the third band, California-based reggae rockers Common Kings. Steinfield brought dancers with her, and a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” too. The crowd might not have known many of Steinfeld’s originals, but they immediately picked up for that cover, which, like all of her songs, was performed without a band and in front of a large backdrop prominently featuring her face. Some of her originals went without recognition, but not “Love Myself,” a Top 40 hit. Just like many of Trainor’s song, there’s room for interpretation. Some see an empowering ballad about taking care of yourself. Others hear a more literal definition of self-love. I heard a short set that wasn’t terribly interesting. But Steinfeld, 19, has a lot of maturing left to do, too. I’m curious where she lands.
Meghan Trainor / Photo: Kevin Kinder
Hailee Steinfeld / Photo: Kevin Kinder
Common Kings / Photo: Kevin Kinder