Photos by Maddie Schroeder
The Temple-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium was full of excitement Thursday night when pop star Daya came to town. Before Daya took the stage, and before the opening band PUBLIC began its set, the auditorium buzzed with energy.
Cincinnati-based band PUBLIC, which opened for Daya, quickly got the crowd on their feet. Band members John Vaughn, Ben Lapps and Matthew Alvarado played their songs “Make You Mine” and “Pretty Face,” as well as covering “Toxic” by Britney Spears. During the song “My Love,” lead singer John Vaughn led the crowd in sharing the chorus with him, singing “Do you wanna be” and the crowd responding “my love.” The crowd quickly joined in.
After the concert all three members of PUBLIC were in the back of the auditorium, selling CDs, taking pictures and talking to fans of all ages. When asked what the band’s favorite part of touring was, John Vaughn stopped to think for only a moment before answering, “Winning over crowds that have never seen us before.”
At intermission, the excitement and the tension heightened even further, as the crowd waited eagerly for Daya’s performance. Before the up-and-coming independent artist even took the stage, the crowd began to get to their feet in anticipation. When Daya finally strutted onto the stage, the artist didn’t have to warm-up the crowd — it was already pumped and ready to go.
Daya opened with her latest single, “Sit Still, Look Pretty,” an anthem for ambitious and driven girls everywhere. The 17-year-old Pittsburgh native sang some of her biggest hits as well as covering “Let It Go” by James Bay and “Fools” by Troye Sivan. In between songs, she thanked fans for their support and gave a shout-out to those from her hometown, all while utilizing the entire stage to get as close as she could to the audience.
Her youth and energy are only a part of what makes her appealing to pop audiences. Daya’s music is up-beat, empowering and especially popular with teenage girls. On her website, Daya is quoted as saying, “I want to empower people to recognize their dreams, be able to chase them, and never be afraid of that.” Based on the number of happy and screaming fans who came to see her perform, she’s succeeding, and doing it without the help of a major record label, something many stars reach for.
Whether she was performing original songs or covers, the audience members remained on their feet and eager to dance for the entire duration of the show. Toward the end of her set, Daya took a short break to sing “Happy Birthday” to a girl in the audience. The 13-year-old girl’s father had been in Daya’s “Hide Away” music video and had reached out to Daya asking if she would be able to give his daughter a little surprise. The entire crowd sang along during the special performance.
Afterward, she invited everyone down to the front of the auditorium to dance while singing “Don’t Let Me Down,” a song she recorded with the EDM DJ duo The Chainsmokers. Fans quickly took her up on the offer and flooded to the floor in front of the stage.
Finally, she closed with her platinum hit “Hide Away,” which was the first song she released, and her most successful to date. It reached the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. With that performance, the concert ended just as strongly as it started, and there’s no doubt that the screaming audience enjoyed every moment of it.