When British rock quintet Coldplay's sold-out tour hit Los Angeles this August, the VIP package boasted a backstage tour at the iconic Rose Bowl stadium. Little did we know that going behind the scenes would also get us up close and personal with a Top 10-charting pop star: multi-platinum recording artist Alessia Cara.
I've learned to be more of an entertainer now rather than just a singer.
Ultimate lounge act
Over the past year, the 20-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter's debut single "Here" has become a global smash, riding high in pop charts in America, the UK, Australia, and Canada. Rolling Stone hailed her as "Best Future Headliner" after Cara's blazing performance at Lollapalooza 2016. And here she was with 50 of us in the sky box just before show time.
Dressed casually in a pair of cut-off shorts, denim jacket, and low-top sneakers, she told the small audience of Citi cardmembers what it's like to perform for as many as 60,000 people a night on Coldplay's "A Head Full of Dreams" tour.
"I've never done anything like this before," said Cara, who went from writing songs in her bedroom to rocking stadiums in less than two years. "I've learned to be more of an entertainer now rather than just a singer." You have to entertain this many people! It's a big change, but I'm learning how to do it. I mean, I hope I'm learning how to do it."
Wisdom and whistle-stop tours
Despite our luxurious surroundings in the sky box – think plush armchairs, specialty cocktails, delicious food, and commanding views of the stadium – many of us were even more dazzled by Cara. In fact, you could hear a pin drop in the room as she explained the message of female self-determination and uplift behind her new single "Scars to Your Beautiful."
"'Scars to Your Beautiful' is my interpretation of what women go through on a daily basis in order to love ourselves," revealed the singer. "We're constantly brainwashed into believing there's only one way to look. If we don't look that way, then we don't have a right to feel beautiful. So this song is to remind women across the board, of all ages, that we never have to change for the world. And if the world tells us we have to change, it's the world that needs to change."
That message resonated with a fellow concertgoer from Redondo Beach, CA. "A song to empower women is always important, especially with a young girl singing it," she said. What's more, she said she was more wowed by Cara's poise and presence during the meet and greet than by the sneak peek she got of the concert's 287-pound explosive confetti "snowstorm."
After posing for photos with us, Cara appeared onstage moments later and almost instantly won over the crowd with the unique alchemy of her performance: a soaring voice that belied her relatively tiny physical stature (she's 5-foot-1) and her cool but approachable, girl-next-door demeanor.
By the time Coldplay bounded onto the stage, the audience was primed for a transcendent concert experience. And from my privileged vantage point – in the third row-center section, just feet from singer Chris Martin's microphone stand – that's what we got. The band charged through a two-hour set filled with messages of uplift and unity and grand rock gestures. Not to mention fireworks, the release of dozens of enormous balloons, and, yes, all that confetti.
It all combined to create a kind of sensory overload, musically encompassing bombastic electronic dance music, earnest piano ballads and even slinky disco grooves. And as Coldplay launched into their breakthrough 2000 hit single "Yellow," electronic wristbands that had been passed out to every concertgoer began glowing in time with the music.
But the group never seemed to lose sight of the greater humanity that connected everyone in the stadium. By way of introducing their song "Everglow," Martin asked the crowd "to send good vibes to somewhere that might need it… because in my experience so far this evening, it seems like you've got a lot of love to give."
Citi Private Pass® offers cardmembers special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events annually, including presale tickets and VIP packages to the year's hottest concerts, sporting events, and dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more. Learn more at https://www.citiprivatepass.com.