Liveshot: Samia opens up to ACL crowd with vulnerable, composed performance

Sage Dunlap, Associate Life&Arts Editor

Just a few minutes into her performance, singer-songwriter Samia prepared her ACL audience with a warning of what fans could expect for the remainder of the set. 

“It’s going to be mostly sad for pretty much the whole time,” the singer said. “There will be moments of joy, and then it will continue to be sad. Thank you and I’m sorry,” the singer said.

In just nine songs, alternative singer-songwriter Samia touched on grief, romantic validation and the trials of adolescence with grace. Awaiting the January release of her sophomore album, Honey, the singer took to the ACL stage with a collection of works primarily from her 2020 debut album, The Baby. 

At the beginning of her set, Samia walked straight to center stage and launched into a rendition of “Pool.” The singer grasped the mic, looking to the crowd with a longing expression and kicking off the performance on a melancholy note. 

Relishing the crowd’s warm applause after the opening song, she paused, turned away from the audience and began twisting her hips to the lively tempo of “Fit N Full” — a compelling, swift and unexpected change of pace that eliminated all preconceived notions about the set. 

Despite Samia’s earlier disclaimer, the singer cultivated a collage of emotions throughout the set. “Stellate” evoked feelings of helplessness, as the singer pumped her fists to the ground and sang what felt like a cathartic release. Just two songs later, the singer confidently strutted around the stage amid the upbeat synth arrangements of upcoming track, “Mad At Me.” Samia seamlessly transitioned between moments of explosion and stillness, breaking into dance one moment and returning to seriousness the next, showcasing her versatility as both a songwriter and performer. 

When responding to audience praise, Samia often grew visibly flustered, blushing and responding with endearingly awkward expressions of gratitude. When a group of fans called her beautiful between songs, the singer giggled and quipped, “I know you are but what am I” — a moment which reminded the crowd of Samia’s humility and humor.

While remaining transparent about her nerves, Samia brought a composed and vulnerable demeanor to her ACL set. With only one full-length album under her belt, the rising star proved she remains a standout in the next generation of indie performers.