Deep blue water and white foam crash against jagged rocks as a woman adorned in a white gown is drowning below the waves. She is fighting against the current to get her head above the water. Gasping for her last breath, she finally emerges. Who is the woman you ask? The woman is Avril Lavigne.
Once her face appears on the jumbo screen, she runs out onto the Greek Theatre stage in the same white gown she wears in the video. She starts the show off with her song “Head Above Water” from her sixth album of the same name.
This song is very powerful. She is completely vulnerable and she is willing to share these emotions with her fans.
It’s obvious through her songs and her experiences, Lavigne values resilience, strength and female empowerment. These themes are still prevalent in her songs on her new album.
“I think that strength and female empowerment were present in my past songs, but they are present even more in my songs now,” she says in an interview. “Being able to write about my health, my fight against my disease and being independent was empowering. The writing process for this album was different; it took three years to make it.”
In 2014, Lavigne was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She put her music career on hold and focused on her health. There were nights where she would lay in bed not knowing if she would ever be able to work again.
“During that time, music more than ever was therapeutic. I re-fell in love with music and writing not knowing what was going to happen next. These songs have inspiring messages like keep your head up and keep moving forward. My writing is very sincere and I think my fans will really connect with that. I am just so excited and grateful that I get to put this album out and take these songs on the road. Being able to reconnect with my fans is so important to me.”
Being able to write again, connect with her fans and share her truth wasn’t the only plus. She also had loads of fun getting back into the studio with Lauren Christy, one of the producers of “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi.” There is still a pop-punk side of Lavigne that loves to skateboard, dirt bike, get tattoos and drink beer.
This side of her is still present during her concerts, and her different sides were present during her career-spanning performance at the Greek Theatre on Sept. 18.
A few songs through her set, she changed outfits into a black shirt with a pink tulle around her neck, black skinny jeans and an electric guitar by her side. The crowd screamed and jumped up and down knowing that songs like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” were to bless their ears very soon.
They were correct and almost every member in the audience sang along to the early 2000s’ hits and pulled out their phones to record the pop-punk chorus that even non-Avril fans would recognize on their Instagram stories. Pink skulls and hearts with flames covered the screen on stage to set the mood of teen angst.
With her rise to fame as the Pop Punk Princess, she fully immersed herself in the industry with a fashion line, multiple collaborations and high-level performances. If she could go back in time to do things differently, she wouldn’t.
“I went out and I was myself,” she says. “I dressed how I wanted, with the ties and everything, and I wrote what I wanted. I lived my life to the fullest and I lived by my main motto, to be true to myself. I’m happy with how everything went.”
She feels very genuine about remaining true to her past self and the decisions she made, and it showed when she performed the infamous “Hello Kitty” song. Although she received backlash for cultural appropriation, the crowd still enjoyed the tune and screamed the chorus “Hello Kitty, Hello Kitty, Hello kitty, you’re so pretty.”
Flouncing around in her third outfit, a Harajuku-like tea skirt and black shirt, she exuded early pop Lavigne vibes, and her fans were eating it up. One man in the crowd even mentioned to the people standing next to him that “She is still hardcore.”
Lavigne performed her song with Kelly Clarkson, “Break Away,” for the second time on the tour and realized that she should add it to her set-list permanently. Maybe one day the two singers will come together to perform the song of The Princess Diaries‘ fame for the masses to hear. One can only hope!
After performing “Girlfriend” and “He Wasn’t,” Lavigne invited back Roy English of the opening band Jagwar Twin to come out and cover “Beverly Hills” by Weezer. It seems as if every band covers “Beverly Hills” while performing at the Greek. Is it a rite of passage? Should this trend die? It should but nonetheless, Lavigne played the drums and although it was a rudimentary beat, she still looked very cool.
She ended her set with “I Fell in Love with the Devil” and “I’m with You” as a part of her encore. Lavigne used more visual effects and imagery on stage to continue the themes of fire and water. These themes not only set the tone and mood for her shows but also for her album Head Above Water.
Despite the confusing parking shuttle access and multiple mosquito bites, Avril Lavigne’s show at the Greek Theater was a nice walk down nostalgia lane that almost every attendee needed on a Wednesday night.