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‘Gravity’ couldn’t hold down Tinashe at Radius Chicago

During the final show of her “BB/ANG3L” tour on Feb. 15, Tinashe took her audience at Radius Chicago on a trip throughout her expansive catalog with a superstar’s blend of emotion, energy and panache. 

Uniiqu3, the self-proclaimed “Jersey Club Queen,” performing an opening set at Radius Chicago on Feb. 15, 2024, packed with plenty of booming bass and unfiltered enthusiasm. | Photo by Avery Heeringa.

The tour stop in Chicago attracted a queer and predominantly male crowd, packed into the warehouse-like venue for an opening performance by the self-proclaimed “Jersey Club Queen,” Uniiqu3. Her opening slot delivered plenty of thudding bass and (as promised) jersey beats to get the crowd geared up for Tinashe. 

Just before 8 p.m., a 10-minute countdown appeared on the back screen of the stage. Two “box” set pieces of differing heights sat onstage, with LED screens covering each side of the cubes. As the countdown ran out, Tinashe emerged atop the taller of the two set pieces to perform “Treason,” the first track from her 2023 album “BB/ANG3L.” Cloaked in a blue light, she delivered the song with a healthy dose of stirring emotion while singing out lines like “I don’t need a reason/I just wanna be with you tonight.” 

Upon her arrival, Tinashe looked effortlessly cool, with flowing, waist-length blonde braids and a strappy two-piece skirt and corset top covered by a vest. Throughout the night she swapped out different pieces of her outfit, rotating between a puffer jacket, cargo pants, sunglasses and a pair of Jordan’s for various numbers.  

She quickly transitioned into catalog classics like “X” and “Throw a Fit,” this time joined by her troupe of four male backup dancers. Her dancers all showed off their individual personalities throughout the night, but never took away from the flair of Tinashe’s own movements. For “Unconditional,” her troupe arranged themselves alongside her, holding up and moving the mic stand as she sang to create ornate motifs out of their bodies.

Many performers often get swallowed up by their backing dancers, but such was never the case for Tinashe. Afterall, she’s become known for her entrancing dance breaks. Her level of skill in delivering razor-sharp choreography alongside strong vocal performances lands her alongside the likes of performing legends like Beyoncé (It must be said!). 

Tinashe alongside her four back up dancers at Radius Chicago on Feb. 15, 2024. | Photo by Avery Heeringa.

Between some of the dance-heavy numbers, Tinashe disappeared from the stage, sometimes having her dancers perform during “interludes” of the show, and other times leaving the stage empty. This first occurred during the club-inspired “HMU for a Good Time,” during which her dancers performed an entertaining routine to the track complete with their cell phones while Tinashe swept by them, posing for selfies with the audience on a phone of her own. For “Shy Guy” however, the stage was left empty, only illuminated by visuals of cascading smoke projected on the back screen and boxes. Whether or not Tinashe was backstage singing or was just playing the track for a well-deserved breather was unclear, but vacant moments like this allowed the crowd’s focus to stray with nothing much to look at. 

Back in front of her crowd, Tinashe’s gratitude for the audience was acknowledged throughout the show. One fan in the crowd held up a sign that read “I’ve known you since the Stunner’s,” referencing the girl group formed in 2007 that Tinashe was a part of.  

“This is the last show of this run, which is kind of crazy already,” she said. “Time has flown by so fast, but I must say that you guys are super lucky and I’m super lucky to have you all here with me, sharing your energy here tonight. Thank you for being here.” 

The LED boxes onstage moved throughout the show, creating different visual arrangements that kept the audience wondering where Tinashe would pop out next. For part of fan favorite, “Cash Race,” she performed inside of the larger box onstage while a camera displayed the live feed from the interior on the larger back screen. In addition to moving the set pieces, entrancing graphics and pre-recorded video of Tinashe herself were cast on the boxes’ screens, making the most of the stage. 

Tinashe performing at Radius Chicago on Feb. 15, 2024. | Photo by Avery Heeringa.

While the show delivered performances of all seven songs from “BB/ANG3L,” the setlist was adorned with just as many deep cuts from Tinashe’s catalog. She performed the “Nightride” cut, “Ghetto Boy,” atop one of the boxes, singing opposite of a dancer performing on the other. During songs like this, “Uh Huh” and “Gravity,” which utilized the full breadth of her range, her voice never faltered. Her silky, cool vocal tone remained consistent throughout the evening, effortlessly cascading up and down scales without ever sounding strained. 

During slower cuts, such as “Sunburn” and “Cold Sweat,” the crowd’s attention seemed to slightly stray, however, this was quickly contrasted with hits like “2 On,” which just about everyone in the venue shouted along to. As the slinky bass and synth of “2 On” began to bump through the speakers, the audience couldn’t hold back their enthusiasm, screaming out for the cross-faded anthem. The crowd’s excitement was most palpable for this, “Bouncin” and the show closer “Needs.” 

“Needs” was performed atop the lower of the two boxes and was mixed in her 2014 single “All Hands On Deck.” The former warranted an energetic reaction from the crowd, but as she started to sing the latter, even more screams erupted from the audience. The seamless combination of the two songs, released almost a decade apart from each other, demonstrated Tinashe’s ability to transcend eras in popular music in a way many artists wish they could. She beamed with radiance and gratitude for her crowd as she delivered more seamless choreography and vocal performance, ending the night with a performance that celebrated her tenure as one of music’s finest R&B and pop empresses. 

Tinashe, outfitted in a strappy two-piece set, during her “BB/ANG3L” tour stop at Radius Chicago on Feb. 15, 2024. | Photo by Avery Heeringa.

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