Griff inundates Rickshaw Stop with pop passion

Photo of Griff at her SF concert
William Webster/Staff

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Plastic gummy bears reflected the lights inside the Rickshaw Stop Feb. 4, emanating from the collarbones of British sensation Griff. The unapologetic accessory reflected the 21-year-old’s bold style and enigmatic energy — the venue’s small stage seemed to stagger with the weight of the young star. 

 Griff walked on, clad in her gummy bear necklace and a white-starched collared dress befit with brooches galore, a picture of eclecticism. She stood proudly, her characteristic self-done sculptured bauble braid swinging with great fervor. Known for her spunky fashion sense and talent for DIY-designs, Griff’s look for the evening did her reputation justice. 

A voice recording from the artist announced the night, an introspective reflection on lockdown and loneliness, on consequential creative growth. This introduction gave such insight into Griff’s creative project for her first mixtape, One Foot in Front of the Other, whose tracks made up most of the evening’s performance. Reminiscent of a message left on an answering machine, Griff’s genuine gratitude for the audience came through.

 Accompanied by her two bandmates, Iziah Yarde on keys and synth and Jamiel Blake on drums, Griff took to the stage in full force. The trio’s energy remained high with each track, having an infectious effect on the audience. The crowd refreshingly was composed of younger audience members, especially toward the front, reflective of Griff’s own age and relatability. Her personality shone through, as she bubbled with both disbelief and excitement to be performing in San Francisco for the first time.

In true pop star style, Griff included some dance moves into her show, but none that came off as too rehearsed. It truly felt like Griff was one amongst her fans, all moving in organic ecstasy to the show’s innocent love songs and carefree pop hits. Even for more emotional tracks, such as “Earl Grey Tea,” which discusses old age and fears of death, the audience still found enough joy to dance — which made the artist laugh in good humor.

Especially for “Heart of Gold,” Griff elicited energy from the crowd when she mixed in Lorde’s “Royals” to her track, adding great surprise to the night. The cover reminded the crowd of Griff’s age and inspirations, which probably filled the audience’s own playlists as well.

Griff’s rendition of “Good Stuff” made for a sorrowful ballad, brimming with sincerity. The raw texture of Griff’s live vocals filled the venue with passion that most veteran artists struggle to bring to a stage. On keys, Griff demonstrated her multi-instrument musicality, and her artistry as a songwriter and producer. Sharing a personal anecdote about her family’s experience fostering children, Griff endearingly personalized the performance.

 The artist additionally shouted out her fellow Asian community members, wishing a happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate. This encouraged large cheers from the crowd, and after the show, a few red envelopes that didn’t make it to the stage marked the floor in red and gold prosperity. Griff made the whole venue feel included in her personal party, reveling in the past year’s success the young artist has witnessed. Coming off of a major win at the BRIT Awards for rising star of the year, Griff’s San Francisco show falls in the first half of her U.S. tour. 

For her final song, Griff performed an acoustic rendition of one of her top tracks, “Black Hole,” before switching into the song’s full dance version. The stylistic transition summed up Griff’s wide-ranging abilities and vision as an artist coming into her own.

Looking to future performances, it will be exciting to see Griff perform with more band members, in a larger venue more fitting to her grand vocals and limitless talent. She’s already slated to open for Ed Sheeran’s 2022 stadium tour, and Griff will certainly bring the same bright attitude and stunning performance ability as seen at the Rickshaw Stop.

Contact Francesca Hodges at [email protected]. Tweet her at @fh0dges.