Earlier this year, Halsey described her impending third album as “a loud one,” and she really wasn’t kidding. “Nightmare,” the first taste of her new era, crash-landed last week with the force of a woman scorned. It’s a sharp, furious, and empowering anthem about what it’s like to be a woman in the year 2019, and after illustrating that concept in its accompanying music video, Halsey has continued bringing the single to life with a pair of explosive performances.
This week, Halsey performed “Nightmare” for the first time onstage at the Minneapolis Armory in Minnesota, where she hosted a free pop-up gig. Prior to the show, Halsey asked her fans not to use their phones, explaining, “The whole point of this was to create a once in a lifetime moment for us. I only get 1 chance to sing Nightmare for the 1st time.” They obliged, to stunning results — it’s special to see a crowd this present and this energetic, screaming lyrics to a song they hadn’t lived with for more than a few days. As Halsey paced the four-sided, flame-filled stage, they were right there with her, for a moment that she accurately later described as “chaos.”
The following day, Halsey brought “Nightmare” to the star-studded finale of The Voice, where Taylor Swift, Jonas Brothers, and BTS also hit the stage. She kicked it off by descending from the rafters in a harness, before joining a mob of dancers for some choreographed moshing and synchronized head-banging. (The performance isn’t viewable on YouTube yet, but it’s available on NBC’s website — see it in the full episode around the 52:45 mark.)
Speaking about the urgent new single before its premiere, Halsey tweeted, “Imagine getting onstage every night and seeing young women sweating mascara tears, lightning in their eyes, throwing elbows and raising fists, screaming till the veins in their necks raise under warm skin, and not being inspired by it. This song is about you, for you.” Judging by her first two performances of “Nightmare,” it’s clear that she’s taking that motive to heart by inspiring fans to rage right alongside her.