SZA’s Dallas Concert Was the Collective Therapy Session We Needed

When SZA’s long-anticipated sophomore album SOS arrived at the tail end of last year, it was a moment that felt more timely than ever. Her poignant, no-holds-barred lyrics provided a form of aural therapy that encapsulated a whirlwind of emotions centered around grieving, heartbreak and loss.

Releasing an album during the holiday season was a risky move, but it was one that paid off for SZA, as SOS remains at the top of several Billboard album charts nearly three months after its release. Her Friday night show at Dallas’ American Airlines Center showed us again that her music is both timely and timeless.

Over the course of the SOS tour, SZA has been supported by Omar Apollo, who himself is at the point of his career where he’d be an equally exciting headliner. Throughout his set, Apollo performed several songs from his critically-acclaimed debut album, Ivory. He also threw in some of his newer songs, such as the polyamory-themed “3 Boys” — despite having only dropped three weeks ago, fans seemed to know every word of the song.

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Omar Apollo was the perfect opener for SZA.

Carly May Gravely

Apollo hit a few dance moves when performing the Pharrell Williams-produced “Tamagotchi,” on which he sings in English and Spanish. The singer shouted out the Latinx people in the audience, all of whom, just as the straight, queer, cis, and gender non-conforming, have embraced a new music icon. Seeing so many people recite Apollo’s lyrics word for word, beat by beat, made for a pleasant indicator of where pop music is heading, toward language-fluid, genre-fluid, and sexually fluid territory.

By the time SZA arrived to the stage, the American Airlines Center was nearly filled to capacity. She opened with “PSA,” a song that has only been made available through an Instagram promotional preview, as she sat on a diving board setup against an oceanside backdrop. Over the course of her nearly two-hour-long set, she sang a blend of songs from SOS, and from her debut album CTRL.

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Apollo gave us dance moves and set the stage for SZA.

Carly May Gravely

SZA’s ardent fanbase maintained its energy throughout the entirety of the set, as the sequence of songs proved rather unpredictable — though immediately recognizable: Fans could hear half a second of the intro to songs such as “Love Galore” and “Broken Clocks,” and immediately anticipate which song was coming.

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Omar Apollo appeals to everyone.

Carly May Gravely

Clips of SZA covering Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady,” from her 2000 album Mama’s Gun had gone viral before her Dallas show, with audiences not recognizing the song. However, Dallas was elated to see SZA honor one of our hometown heroes.

Even some of the deeper cuts from SZA’s catalog made their way onto the setlist, such as her Kendrick Lamar collab “All the Stars” from the 2018 movie Black Panther. It’s worth noting that in 2018, another version of “All the Stars” replaced the originally released track on streaming services (for reasons undisclosed) with different lyrics in SZA’s verse; however, fans seemed ready for whichever version SZA would perform.

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From Black Panther to Doja Cat, SZA has been everywhere the past few years.

Carly May Gravely

One of the standout tracks from SOS is “F2F,” in which SZA experiments with a rock sound. This is one we anticipated, and the crowd did not disappoint, headbanging and yelling along to this song in an epic moment.

The climax of the show came when SZA changed into a large white dress and floated across the venue atop a giant life preserver. During this portion, she performed her CTRL-era breakup anthem “Supermodel,” her Radiohead-interpolating “Special,” and her current hit single, “Nobody Gets Me.”

Of course, the concert did have its cheerful moments, like when she performed her verse on the Doja Cat collaboration “Kiss Me More.” During this song, much of the audience replicated its viral TikTok dance.

However, it seemed like a large part of the audience was in the mood for her revenge anthems, whether by  calling out exes via “Kill Bill,” or collectively shouting “fuck you” and throwing up their middle fingers during the chorus of “I Hate U.”

The concert ended on a positive note, as she performed “Good Days” as her encore song. At this point, much of the audience was bobbing back and forth to the music, singing along to the song that arrived as a surprise Christmas gift during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dallas stop of the SOS tour felt like a safe haven, as Apollo put a wide range of queer emotions on display, and SZA provided a space for the audience to let their feelings flow freely. After the past few years we’ve had, a night of incredible music proved to be exactly what we needed.

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SZA gave us the space to curse at our exes and there’s never a bad time for that.

Carly May Gravely

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SZA left us cured on Friday night after her Dallas show.

Carly May Gravely


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