Goosebumped and shivering, thousands flocked to the gates of Buffalo, N.Y.’s KeyBank Center on Friday night (March 22), where Ariana Grande launched into night No. 3 of her Sweetener World Tour. The aroma of wing sauce and French fries wafted into nostrils as a horde of blown-out curls breezed through security (thanks to Ariana’s post-Manchester bag rules), heels clicking past vestibules of Labatt Blue to watch Social House and Normani kick off the next three hours.
Despite tapping into stan Twitter and veraciously following Ariana’s socials, I had avoided all the Sweetener spoilers I could. But even after sneaking a peek at the setlist on the train ride up to Buffalo, I still had a few surprises lying ahead when Ms. Grande strutted into the arena to begin a mind-altering musical mission through space, time, love, and riches. And lucky for you, we’re breaking it all down below.
Ariana implored her fans to opt out of bags... or at least suggested they choose small plastic ones. I bought one from her website, but damnitall, it did not arrive in time for the show. Thankfully, I was able to check my tote — containing the computer I typed this on, deodorant and a change of underwear (TMI?) — at customer services. Phew! Anyway, getting through security was a dream because there was nothing to hold it up.
Several major news outlets -- including the AP, New York Times, LA Times and 12 others -- have joined the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) in protesting Ariana's photo policy on her current Sweetener World Tour.
The NPPA claims the tour contract she's making them sign to cover her concerts requires photographers to hand over all rights to their photos to her tour company, GrandAriTour, Inc. ... and they're only allowed to take still shots from a designated area during the first 3 songs.
If the photogs want to use their pics, they have to get written approval from Grande ... and even then, they can only use each photo once as part of a news story.
The 16 media outlets believe this is a massive overreach and flies in the face of journalistic principles ... and the NPPA president is urging members to refuse to sign Ariana's photography agreement.
So what can Arianators expect when the superstar hits the stage? She's been careful not to reveal much in the way of sets or costumes, but she has teased, "it's my favorite stage i've eva had for sure." The "7 rings" singer has also been flooding her feed with some BTS shots that showcase her talented team and the furry friends who will join her on the road. Below, see everything else we know about the Sweetener Tour (a.k.a., the Sweetener/Thank U, Next Tour!).
In a tweet, Ari said that she plans on "doing as much of the two new albums as possible," referring to 2018's Sweetener and this year's thank u, next. That's a lot of material to pack into one setlist, which could mean fans are in for some creative medleys and mash-ups. There's also the question of whether or not she'll perform certain Sweetener songs at all (cough cough, "pete davidson").
As beautiful as this thank u, next ballad is, it's also unsurprisingly tough for Grande to perform live. Answering a fan who asked if she'll sing it on tour, she admitted, "if i can get thru it yea but right now it’s not on the set list. i jus want to have a good time with y’all and like .... make it thru the show lol." Elaborating on the raw, strings-laden number, Grande told Zach Sang, "It's a lot. It's like, too much, actually. ... It is really beautiful, but, you know, I don't listen to that one."
How do we know? Because Ari's already revealed that she and go-to director Hannah Lux Davis recently shot a bunch of visuals for the trek. Davis, of course, is the eye behind such recent music video masterpieces as "thank u, next," "7 rings," and "break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored," so expect these visuals to be similarly epic.
According to Variety, Ariana Grande was paid $8 million to headline Coachella this year, a staggering fee by any standard — but even more so considering Beyoncé was reportedly paid half that amount to headline in 2018.
Grande, the youngest headliner in the music festival's 20-year history, delighted fans during her performance Sunday night by enlisting a live orchestra, reuniting (most of) NSYNC, dueting with Nicki Minaj, and paying tribute to her late ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller.
"Because Beyoncé came in last year and did her thing and kind of set the bar, basically Coachella becomes a competition, which is ridiculous," Bennett said. "And artists who are strong should just come in and do their own thing and just be who they are. And that's pretty much what Ariana has done. There's not like there's a bunch of gags. She's being Ariana and singing and doing her thing."
Ariana Grande x BLACKPINK ✨ This is one of the biggest work that I've ever done. I really want that amazing collaboration, who´s with me? Hope you like it guys, hope they can see this work hehe and thank you so much for your support!!