As her set gets underway, it's pretty clear that those in attendance aren't just biding their time until she gets to her sole Hot 100 hit. Early EP tracks like "Found" and "Don't Want You" get rapturous responses from the first notes her backing band plays, and the normally Ty Dolla $ign-featuring "She Don't" starts an audience-wide sing-along, even before Mai takes a crowd-pleasing dip into the chorus of Lauryn Hill's classic "Doo Wop (That Thing)" at song's end. The songs are uniformly strong, and Mai is a compelling presence delivering them -- she's a little unpolished and doesn't quite own the stage like a star yet, but her voice has an understated power to it, her full smile is blinding, and she excels at the little things that make artists relatable performers, like dropping a quick "true story" after a revealing lyric from 2017 single "Naked."
But of course, "Boo'd Up" is the climax, and after less than a year in our lives, it's amazing the emotional rush the song already provides right from the opening synth waves and 808 clicks. Mai already performs it with the assuredness of a signature song, as it's destined to be for her, and to her credit she still sounds properly in awe of it and what it's become. In fact, after one time through -- and an appropriately dramatic onstage pause to soak in the loudest audience cheers of the night -- she decides to run it back, with a twist: "I want you guys to share the stage with me." So five fans (one of whom, Nicholas, she calls her "best friend") come onstage to share two microphones on an awkward but ultimately endearing second time through "Boo'd Up," with the crowd even more into Mai's egalitarian encore than they were the first time around. "Literally, I'm speechless," the singer-songwriter comments of the fan response on multiple occasions.
However, even after the double "Boo'd Up," a final number still remains. "I have one last song to do," Mai teases. "Has anyone heard the last song that I put out l last Friday?" She then launches into new single "Trip," the official "Boo'd" follow-up, which led Spotify's New Music Friday playlist earlier this month and represents Ella's first chance at ridding herself of any potential one-hit wonder tags. The song is a winner, with a chorus nearly as sticky as "Boo'd," and gets a positive response -- though whether it can produce the same kind of viral magic as her breakthrough hit remains to be seen. Regardless, you can bet that by the next time Ella Mai plays New York, Music Hall of Williamsburg won't be big enough to hold her.