Doja Cat clicked off the internet and headed to the stage for the first time since 2019 for her Scarlet Tour, supporting her new album of the same name. The album is her first release with no features since her debut release in 2014.
While getting your big break via the internet, especially Tiktok, isn’t uncommon for artists in 2023, Doja Cat’s rise to mainstream is significant because she went viral in 2020, when people were more online than ever. Her transition from “Tiktok song” artist to a headlining tour was swift, now filling arenas such as DC’s Capital One, which she played on Nov. 27 with support from Ice Spice.
Doja’s first appearance of the night was without any singing at all. She wandered on stage in a white sheet, with red lighting surrounding her and visuals resembling blood that instantly reminded me of Stephen King’s Carrie. Before fans could theorize what was going on, she immediately jumped into a hole in the stage and disappeared, as the audience cheered for what was to come.
The nearly 2-hour set was just as visually engaging as it was audibly. Vocals and band aside, Doja was accompanied by dancers, pyrotechnics, an animatronic spider, a larger-than-life eyeball, and even indoor fireworks. Visuals on digital screens matched the auroras of each set, split up into five parts.
Doja didn’t need to speak much to connect with her biggest fans. Between the kiss-cam during her hit “Kiss Me More,” an intimate performance sitting near the front of the stage, and the animatronic spider flying over floor seats, the audience stayed engaged.
Watch the official music video for “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat featuring SZA on YouTube:
Audience members, many of whom came in red devil horns, an ode to her song “Paint the Town Red,” sang along the entire night. The one moment she stopped to chat was apologizing in advance if she sounded sick, which the audience did not pick up on. While some artists may pause to talk about any connections to a city they are playing or share an anecdote to introduce a song to keep a show intimate, Doja made the choice to stick to singing without much pause.
Unlike many setlist strategies, Doja finished her biggest hits mid set, rather than saving her biggest song(s) for the end or an encore. As a result, as the night went on the energy level fluctuated.
Should you walk in late during the opener, you may have thought Ice Spice was at the top of the bill. Not only did she have elaborate visuals as well and many backup dancers, the audience did not skip a beat. It’s always fun when openers have some fans in the audience who know every word, but it’s even more exhilarating when it seems like every audience member has their discography memorized. It’s been an exciting 2023 for her, not only for releasing music but for collaborating with several artists, including Taylor Swift, who added Doja to one of her remixes for her song Karma and even invited her to select nights of the Eras Tour.
The Scarlet Tour was an exciting comeback following her previous tour’s inevitable cancellation due to Covid-19. Whether you catch her on tour or on a screen in your pocket, Doja Cat is ready to get her fans to dance and sing along.
Here are some photos of Doja Cat performing at the Kaseya Center on Nov. 21, 2023, in Miami, Florida. All photos by John Parra/Getty Images for Live Nation.
Here are some photos of Ice Spice performing at Capital One Arena on Nov. 27, 2023. All photos by Dowan “star” Wilson, courtesy of Live Nation.