Screams filled the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas the moment the lights went down around 9:15 p.m. Saturday night, and the shrillness was so deafening, one could have easily missed the opening lines of Selena Gomez's highly anticipated concert.
"I dive into the future, but I'm blinded by the sun," rang her voice over the speakers. "I'm reborn in every moment, so who knows what I'll become."
Then, a flash of light from behind a curtain where Gomez's silhouette sang the words to "Revival," the opening track to the pop star's most recent album of the same name, bending and flipping her hair into new positions with each following flash. With one powerful drum beat, the curtain descended from the ceiling to reveal a beaming Gomez, sparkling from head to toe in a sassy black body suit.
It was an entrance designed for mega-stardom, which the 23-year-old native North Texan has undeniably achieved in the last year. Even Gomez seemed slightly bemused, telling the sold-out crowd Saturday she'd been literally dreaming of this stage since she was 10 years old.
Truth be told, this wasn't the first time Gomez performed at AAC — in 2013, she joined Pitbull, Jason Derulo and others there as part of Kiss FM's Jingle Ball concert. But that was years ago, when the singer was fresh off casting spells on TV series Wizards of Waverly Place.
Gomez returned to Dallas a grown woman, fully shed of her Disney innocence and radiating the confidence that comes with adulthood.
Being that this was the Revival Tour, Gomez primarily performed new material with a live band, including aggravated pop song "Same Old Love," dance jam "Kill Em With Kindness," and disgruntled ballad "Sober." She made sure to appease longtime fans, though, with throwback tunes "Come and Get It," "Who Says," and "Love You Like a Love Song."
Gomez also played a cover of "Transfiguration" by Hillsong Worship, which she previously dedicated to slain singer Christina Grimmie. In Dallas, she didn't mention Grimmie by name, but said she had been pulling strength from the song before sitting down at the piano in one of the evening's rare moments of tranquility.
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Where Gomez really shined, however, was during the lust-fueled moments, which have become something a signature since Gomez's coming of age.
Backed by a group of stunning hip-hop dancers, she strutted through red-lit fog in the seductive "Good For You," and acted as a one-woman petting zoo during the tactile "Hands to Myself." After one of several video interludes and costume changes, Gomez emerged in a gold leotard and thigh-high boots atop a chariot for a steamy run through of "Me and My Girls," "Me and the Rhythm," and "Body Heat." The arena's rising temperature was palpable.
Gomez wasn't the only Disney star showcasing a new side. Joe Jonas-fronted band DNCE warmed up the crowd with a mix of rock-pop tunes that surprised and delighted.
Known best for its addictively upbeat single "Cake By the Ocean," DNCE proved a well of talent. Bassist Cole Whittle, who seemed to have repurposed a volleyball net as an outfit, laid down a string of funky foundations over which guitarist JinJoo Lee let loose. With a little more substance behind its lyrics, DNCE could earn a reputation beyond Jonas' new project.
Three-piece California band Bahari also entertained with its 20-minute opening set of breezy pop tunes.
The night, however, belonged to Selena Gomez, whose vocal prowess was equally as evident as her ability to work the crowd. She allowed fans, many hoisting homemade signs, to bolster choruses and thanked them for supporting her along her journey. If the screams resounding throughout venue after the concert concluded with a shower of confetti were any indication, they'll be back for many years to come.