From Opener to Close: Lizzo Returns to Radio City Music Hall and More as Sold-Out Headliner
After years of supporting established acts from Haim to Sleater-Kinney to Florence + The Machine, Lizzo is playing the same venues in 2019 but this time, as a headliner selling out her own shows.
Lizzo, the pop and hip-hop sensation currently sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 with her 2017 universal anthem “Truth Hurts,” is one of 2019’s across-the-board breakout stars.
Though she’s a fresh face atop the charts, the Detroit native’s career has been a slow build with years of touring under her belt. And now, after hustling in clubs, festivals and supporting some of the independent world’s buzziest tours, Lizzo has arrived in 2019 as a headliner selling out major venues around the country.
Matthew Morgan of WME, Lizzo’s agent since 2014, noted “there was this incredible nexus of strong feminism and positivity that comes across in both of their shows that hit their demographic across the head,” referring to Lizzo’s opening stint for Sleater-Kinney in 2015.
After spending 2018 on the road with Haim (as direct support) and Florence + The Machine (she was the first of three, before main support act St. Vincent), Lizzo headlined the Cuz I Love You Tour in April and May, before returning for its sequel, the Cuz I Love You Too Tour this fall. Both outings are in support of Lizzo’s third studio LP, Cuz I Love You, which was released on April 19, 2019.
The Cuz I Love You Tour kicked off three days later, before its namesake album or any of its singles hit the Billboard charts. Without proven hits, the tour placed Lizzo in clubs across North America, including Philadelphia’s Theatre of Living Arts (1,100 capacity), Seattle’s Showbox SoDo (1,800 cap), and Boston’s House of Blues (2,400 cap). Some cities, while conservative in venue selection, demanded multiple shows, such as San Francisco’s tour-opening double-header at the Warfield Theater and the mix-and-match of two nights at Brooklyn Steel plus a third show at Manhattan’s Terminal 5.
All 22 dates on the tour sold out, averaging 1,962 tickets and a $54,000 gross per night according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore. And by the end of the trek, Lizzo’s building momentum was snowballing into ubiquity. Cuz I Love You had debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, while “Truth Hurts” began its ascent on the Billboard Hot 100 in the tour’s final week (“Juice” would debut on the chart two days after the tour wrapped.).
After spending much of the summer playing festivals and select headline dates in Europe, Lizzo began her fall trek. By the time she returned to the states, Cuz I Love You hit No. 4 on the Billboard 200 while “Truth Hurts” enjoyed its first of five (so far) weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
The Cuz I Love You Too Tour opened in Troutdale, Ore. on July 18-19 but properly resumed on Sept. 7-8 in New Orleans after a quick run of radio shows. The Fall tour was set up differently than its predecessor, nearly tripling its average capacity from 1,962 tickets per night in clubs to more than 5,000 in large theaters and select boutique arenas and amphitheaters.
According to Morgan, the immediate sell-out of the club tour plus the impending album release in the middle of two Coachella performances gave his team the confidence to scale up for her second tour of the year. In addition to Lizzo’s packed schedule in 2019, her Instagram follower count had quintupled from 50,000 in 2017 to 250,000 by the beginning of 2019 (she currently has 5.6 million followers).
And much like Lizzo’s spring run, its fall sequel completely sold out. Through its first 18 dates, the Cuz I Love You Too Tour has averaged a $264,000 gross and 5,322 tickets sold per night. That means that its mid-point $4.8 million gross has already quadrupled the final $1.2 million gross of the Cuz I Love You Tour.
More than just a financial triumph, Lizzo’s tour is another marker among many that she has arrived. Last week, she sold out two nights at New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall, only 16 months after serving as opening act for Haim’s two-night stint at the same venue. The following two nights, she repeated the feat at Washington, D.C.’s 6,000-cap The Anthem. The same goes for her sold out headlining returns to Boston’s Agganis Arena, Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom (two nights), and various other venues across North America.
“These are the most diverse audiences I’ve ever seen, across age, income level, race, in every way,” added Morgan. That wide appeal is not only the product of a No. 1 single and awards-season-hype, but that of years of playing to intimate audiences around the country and bringing her own unbridled charisma to fans of acts as varied as Haim, Clean Bandit, Sleater-Kinney, and Har Mar Superstar.
The Cuz I Love You Too Tour has 17 dates left to report in North America before closing on Oct. 27 at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, shooting Lizzo’s 2019 total towards the $10 million mark. Ari Lennox, Empress Of, and Sophia Eris will alternate supporting slots, on their own paths from opening acts to arena-conquering successes.