If there’s one thing Camila Cabello proved during her Sunday evening (Aug. 20) set at Billboard’s Hot 100 Fest at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, it’s that she’s a star. But why stop at one thing? Cabello also proved she’s a dynamic force onstage, an agile live vocalist (she nailed those breathy high notes on “Bad Things”), an effortless dancer and a pretty damn good guitarist, too.
Opening with the criminally underrated “OMG,” Cabello — wearing mostly black in contrast to the white-clad backup dancers and musicians flanking her — radiated joy throughout her brisk 35-minute performance, seeming especially thrilled and grateful for the front row pit’s exuberant response to her (and she was attentive to fans in response, calling out a few fellow Latinos in the front and making sure one crying girl was OK).
Her best-known solo songs — “Crying In the Club” and MGK’s “Bad Things” — got the biggest response, but the majority of those in front knew every word to her songs, even those that haven’t entered the Billboard Hot 100, suggesting those who like her music aren’t passing fans — they’re in it for the long run.
And for someone fairly new to the solo live concert game, Cabello was remarkably at ease and emotionally straightforward during her set, getting real while introducing a few songs without ever sounding like she was reading from a pre-written script.
“This is my first time performing this live, it has so much weight to me,” Cabello said before the ballad “I Have Questions.” “It’s about someone I thought would be in my life forever… but then you wake up from that dream.”
But she didn’t leave the crowd on a down note. Breaking out an electric guitar for her last song, “I’ll Never Be the Same,” Cabello demonstrated her comfort level wielding an axe and made a convincing case that Camila Cabello is more than just a pop diva-in-waiting: She’s a rock star — a natural onstage, insanely fun to watch and the kind of live performer who leaves you eager to come back for more.