Tinashe shows SXSW what a real pop star looks like

Pop R&B singer Tinashe had already spent her 30-minute South by Southwest slot wisely, but then she had to go and break out the synchronized chair dance. Show-off.

How lucky the midnight crowd at 800 Congress was to see that show go off, though. The multi-hyphenate 24-year-old — singer-songwriter-dancer-producer-probably other things — pulled out all the stops for a charm offensive Wednesday night. The singer said that three years ago, she played her first-ever show at SXSW. Her genuine glee to be back radiated with every ponytail whip and wave to the audience.

As she sang in “Party Favors,” few go as hard as Tinashe. From opening number “Ride of Your Life,” she and her crew of dancers popped in tight formation. Tinashe, though supported by a backing track, brought her belting muscles, too, as she proved on “Watch Me Work.” If she had stayed consistent from the first half of the set, Tinashe would have still had a memorable night.

But the back half of the show was truly all hands on deck, just like the song of the same name. That tune’s video is famous for its elaborately choreographed dance in shipping containers. Barring any large boxes in which to glide, Tinashe and co. worked every last inch of the stage, and every last inch of their bodies, especially the inches on the back.

Elsewhere, the aforementioned folding chairs got a workout on “Company.” Her earpiece also came out and hung from her giant hoop earring, and the lack of audio feed didn’t seem to throw the singer off her game at all. On new song “Flame,” which Tinashe said she had “never ever sang” for people, an always risky a capella moment captivated (even if the falsetto sounded a little airy).

Tinashe packed a lot into 30 minutes — again, the chairs — but would you guess she had time for an encore? Well, she did. A slinky “2 On” built to an all-time turn-up, and Tinashe even brought it all back to the stage one more round of getting faded. Next time, SXSW, give this woman way more than 30 minutes at midnight.


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