Melanie Martinez Transports Audience To Another World in ‘Portals’ Tour


Melanie Martinez performs “MILK OF THE SIREN” at Sandy Amphitheater (Photo by Audrey Hall | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Audrey Hall, Arts Writer


Singer-songwriter Melanie Martinez has begun a nationwide tour of her latest album, “Portals,” which will take her to 27 cities across the U.S. The tour started in Denver, Colorado, but the second show brought her to Utah’s very own Sandy Amphitheater. Over 2,500 of her fans gathered to watch her perform for the first time since the K-12 Tour that was cut short due to COVID-19 in 2020. 

What Opening Act?

Before we get to the performance itself, let’s take a second to recognize the amazing artist that opened before the main event. Tanukichan was announced as Martinez’s opening act on her Instagram story, and yet it still took a fair amount of digging to find any mention of Tanukichan even being a part of the concert.

It’s understandable to have a headlining artist like Martinez, but simply not putting the opener’s name on any of the publicity feels disrespectful and a bit strange. Tanukichan’s set fit the energy of the amphitheater perfectly, giving people a relaxing but fun show before the organized chaos that was to ensue. However, I hadn’t ever listened to Tanukichan before hearing them at the concert. It made me wish that they had been more widely advertised so I’d have more time to do so beforehand. 

A Faerie Soiree to Remember

Considering how long it’s been since she’s been on tour, Martinez sure knows how to put on the performance of a lifetime. The curtains drew back to reveal an intricate set design that fully immersed the band and background dancers in a mystical forest filled with moss and mushrooms, vines and of course, a portal made of light and smoke. She opened with “DEATH,” which is also the first song on the album. The enormous screen that took up the background of the stage played video footage of the setting featured in the song’s music video. The song’s ethereal vibes dropped into a bass-heavy chorus and the crowd screamed the words at the top of their lungs as Martinez held the microphone out to them. She moved alongside her backup dancers in a perfectly choreographed routine matching each song as the gorgeous lighting danced around them. 

As she worked her way through the album, each song with its own unique style and twist on the indie pop genre, the screen shifted from the forest of “DEATH” into a river of blood for “MOON CYCLE.” Then, the audience was transported into the inside of an ovary for “WOMB” and even under the sea in “MILK OF THE SIREN.”

The album slowly goes from having an alien-esque presence into an almost alternative feel, all the while maintaining its unapologetic oddities. The energy however dies back down for the last three songs (which were used for the encore) and it ends on the same note on which it began. This served not only as a way of ending the concert in a calm and relaxed state, but it also kept the theme of rebirth that’s found throughout the entire set. Overall, it was an absolutely incredible performance from Martinez, and she did not disappoint in the slightest. 

RIP Cry Baby

Martinez is well-known for her persona named “Cry Baby,” who made her debut in the album of the same name. The two albums released before “Portals” leaned into a warped childish aesthetic with a pastel color palette and disturbingly traumatic lyrics.

All the way back in 2016, Martinez told Vogue that her actual family life is very supportive and kind.

“I’ve always loved writing songs about things that a lot of people don’t usually write about because it’s an uncomfortable subject or just depressing or whatever,” she said. “Because music is therapy for me, and I always want my music to be that for other people as well.” 

With the release of “Portals,” however, the Cry Baby persona is dead. In a recent interview with The Julia Show, Martinez spoke on the evolution of not only her music but herself as a person.

“I think that with “Cry Baby” and “K-12,” because they were very focused with childhood themes, I quickly obviously outgrew that resonance to that because I’m an adult,” she said. “[This is] the most connected I’ve ever felt to my music and I think I’m going to always feel connected to it because as a human I can relate to it just as someone who is immortal and just learning and growing through life.” 

The songs on the album still maintain Martinez’s ear for surrealism, but they put together mature themes with a more mature sound. They also add an otherworldly presence that absolutely owns the stage.

Her performative abilities are absolutely to die for. She knows how to work a crowd and the lighting combined with the dancers is everything a fan could possibly ask for. If this is where the rest of Martinez’s career is headed, I think we’re in for a wild but wonderful ride.  


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