Arriving for a show at Marymoor Park feels more like heading to summer camp than a concert. Such was the scene last night as Sara Bareilles took the stage for her Little Black Dress tour. Picnic tables, food vendors, and all kinds of booze and other swag filled the grassy lawn—as did hundreds of people spread out on blankets and lawn chairs, surrounded by picnic baskets and bags of deli take-out from Whole Foods. On a beautiful, warm Tuesday night, it felt homey in a way.
Bareilles arrived on stage in that eponymous little black dress and the crowd erupted in a chorus of cheers. From her catchy opening song “Little Black Dress,” to her epic closer, “Brave,” Bareilles kept her audience entertained. Her set list had a nice mix of old and new music and showcased her soulful voice and powerful range. She moved smoothly from upbeat, piano pop songs and sultry jazz numbers to anthemic power ballads.
The crowd danced and swayed in the setting sun as she sang upbeat tunes like her hit, “Love Song” and “I Wanna Be Like Me.” While Bareilles appeared completely natural strutting and dancing on stage, she never looked more at home than when she was behind the piano, where she spent most of the concert.
Her voice became seductive and low on “Love on the Rocks” and “Come Around Soon,” and as the night progressed, the audience sat down in the dark to hear the heartfelt “Manhattan,” and “Gravity.” She showed off her ukulele skills during her cover of “Chandelier,” by Sia.
The crowd was an eclectic mix of teenage girls in—what else?—little black dresses, young families with children, and middle aged men and women. The audience seemed to hang on every word Bareilles sang, wonderfully sincere in their fandom. This was especially true of the middle aged women enjoying a spread of wine and cheese while taking videos of themselves enthusiastically dancing and singing the words to every song.
Throughout the show she told stories, made hilarious wisecracks, dropped the f-bomb a few times, and warmly engaged with audience members. When the singer noticed someone with a baby, she said, “You brought a baby to a concert? I hope you didn’t have to pay for her ticket!” To the boy with a sign that proclaimed “I love Sara Bareilles,” she waved at him saying, “I love you, too.”
Everyone was on their feet by the end of the night with the synth-pop tune, “Eden,” and the crowd went wild for the penultimate, “King of Anything.” Bareilles belted out “Brave” as the closing song with enough energy and heart to make this final moment one the most memorable of the concert.
By the end of the show, the park was dark with just a string of lights hanging off the fence surrounding the venue to illuminate a beautiful acapella version of “Bright Lights and Cityscapes” for her encore. As I began to leave the park, I took one look back, and watched the audience, entranced, swaying on the lawn looking up at the woman in the little black dress.