The historic adornment of the Bowery Ballroom was crammed by H.E.R. enthusiasts from vintage drape to vintage drape on Monday night (Nov. 20th). And, as New York City lined up in advance outside the main theatre entrance, The Lights On Tour merchandise flew off product tables in preparation.

The mixtape queen’s H.E.R. Volume 1 and H.E.R. Volume 2 stand alongside the most impactful of 2017. Accordingly, R&B’s budding starlet geared up for her first-ever Manhattan headlining performance, and she brought some promising fresh faces with her.  

Interscope’s newcomer Arin Ray hit the stage with a baby face, and just enough bad-boy edge to get the women below center stage excited. The 22-year-old singer’s viral smash,”We Ain’t Homies,” chin-checks the people who are suddenly friendly now that he’s a conversation in label head’s conference rooms. But Ray still exemplified a bit of humility by shouting out Jessie Reyez before singing the Reyez record she assisted,”Lonely.”

The audience felt the tune’s scenario in their core as Ray remorsefully belted out, “Don’t take that personal/ I know I do shit that’s just so stupid/ I hurt someone so beautiful/ Always some shit that ain’t worth losing.” Still, he picked up the tempo from there, finessing the crowd while playing the piano and covering a few songs, including PARTYNEXTDOOR’s, “Joy,” and SZA’s, “Love Galore.” As he proceeded to roll through the tracks off his celebrated new EP Phases, Ray earned some notable music VIP nods– before bowing out.


Crescendos from drums and guitar string plucked along to the sampled rhythm of Case and Foxy Brown’s, “Touch Me, Tease Me,” as Tiara Thomas emerged with a buzz cut and oversized Hollywood glasses. Now captivated, the concert-goers cheered as the songstress placed her spin on GoldLink’s radio favorite, “Crew,” and shocked the Bowery Ballroom after spitting her own impressive bars over the beat. “New York, what’s up? My name is Tiara Thomas. For those of y’all that don’t know me, y’all might know me from a song that was on the radio. Y’all know about this rapper named Wale, right,” Thomas asked the now-raving mass.

“So, if you happen to know the words to this song tonight, I would love to hear you guys sing along with me,” she continued while strumming her guitar to the Wale smash, “Bad.” Now acclimated, Thomas held her mic towards the audience, as the venue filled with intense crooning. Her latest project Don’t Mention My Name is an explicit ode to millennial feminism — and she wasn’t too shy to shake something. “Can any of y’all dance in here? So, y’all can get loose for me tonight?” she asked, while removing her jacket to showcase a rock-hard 6 pack. Soon, the onlookers were swaying with Thomas, who shimmiedwith perfect legwork.

After Thomas, H.E.R. strutted out under a blisteringly blue phosphorescence to her dominatrix lullaby, “Say It Again.” Passionate fans created a free-for-all cluster towards the rising star as she captivated with her vocals on the favorites “Losing,” “2,” “Avenue,” and “Facts.” H.E.R.’s spoken word-fused “Wait For It,” had women unapologetically declare their deepest, most salacious intentions. 

As she took turns juggling her piano, drum machine, and guitar — H.E.R. laced a few covers, including Floetry’s “Say Yes” and Jill Scott’s “A Long Walk.” “I was in the studio and they said I had a visitor,” H.E.R. told her screaming admirers. “My other session wasn’t working out, so, I said, ‘Let’s talk, let’s just vibe for a second. He had his guitar in his hands, and we created a song. You may know him, his name is Daniel Caesar.'” Gripping her signature brown and red highlighted mane with one hand, and a massive wooden guitar in the other, H.E.R. turned critics into believers on “Best Part.”

From there, she played a heart-wrenching unreleased song about a relationship that left her feeling unnoticed, before detailing a more fruitful bond on The B Sides’poetic “Rather Be.” Nonetheless, the overwhelming sensitivity ceased when her special guest, A$AP Ferg, unleashed his chart-climbing street anthem “Plain Jane.” The MC proceeded to rap acapella, but H.E.R. regained the focal point with her follower-worshipped jam “Focus.”

A sudden break of instrumentation initiated for the song “U,” before H.E.R. proceeded to roar Rihanna’s animalistic lyrics to “Yeah, I Said It,” and Kendrick Lamar’s, “LOVE.” But she was disappointed at the fan response, barking at her devotees, “Y’all don’t even know the words! Mumbling words, but that’s okay. Y’all are funny. [Laughs.] So, I just want to say, thank you guys so much for coming out.”

H.E.R. performs at night two of the STAPLES Center Concert, presented by Coca-Cola, during the 2017 BET Experience at LA Live on June 23, 2017 in Los Angeles.

Filled with gratitude, she continued, thank the crowd “for loving R&B music — not just my music, but all R&B music. This is my first headlining tour and I am receiving so much love. It means so much to me. I am so very grateful. I’m having a wonderful time and couldn’t be [happier].” 

H.E.R. aimed to end on a good note. Tour title track “Lights On,” proved her raw talent to be one of the greatest among surging R&B acts, while New York City waved their cell phones from left to right at the leading lady through “Every Kind of Way, and “Jungle.” Closer “Changes” served as the flawless ensemble wrap-up, H.E.R. ending with these amiable sentiments: “I’m a huge believer in love. When you’re in a relationship, and you love somebody, and you know you have options… don’t mess that up. Thank you, I love you!”

By Bianca Alysse Mercado for 

Image 1: LA Times
Image 2: Billboard 

About The Author

Bianca Alysse is a creatively driven Bronx-born writer and editor. Before becoming The Knockturnal‘s music editor she served as Latina‘s creative coordinator and was a contributor at Billboard. The Boricua scribe has a lengthy resume in the music industry and has penned for Universal Music Publishing Group, Epic Records, G.O.O.D. Music, Compound Entertainment, Artistry & Récords, and Arcade Creative Group. Her work has been seen on platforms like VIBE, mitú, TIDAL, Remezcla, and behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week. As an independent contractor, she has written for Sony Music Entertainment’s global business affairs department, Warner Music Group, and currently Roc Nation.

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