It Girl

Where Does Gracie Abrams Go Now?

With tour dates through October, the answer is seemingly everywhere — and she’s already thinking of what comes next.

Written by Lauren McCarthy
Photographs by Juan Veloz
Originally Published: 

Six days into her headlining tour, Gracie Abrams is getting used to life on the road again. Currently, she’s surveying the spread that New York’s Irving Plaza has set up per her rider ahead of that evening’s sold-out show. It’s fairly run-of-the-mill: a fridge full of water and Diet Coke; various trays of fresh fruit and veggies; a few loaves of Dave’s Killer Bread for paninis. (Abrams and crew travel with their own George Foreman grill.) “There’s nothing too diva-like on here, right?” she asks, genuinely concerned. “I deeply hate inconveniencing anyone.”

Abrams has a habit of putting others first. On TikTok, you’ll find countless videos of her stopping mid-song to check on the safety of the crowd. Settling into her green room, she offers to take the spot on the couch closest to the window, where a late March snowstorm is sending in a chilly breeze. In a few hours, she’ll host a VIP meet-and-greet, which she holds before every show, but instead of a one-and-done photo opp, it’s an intimate gathering. “We basically just hang with all the house lights up and talk about whatever they want,” she says. “It's really nice to reconnect and get to actually feel conversations with the people that are generous enough to come to the show.” In a time when everyone and their literal mom is “mother,” Abrams is more like the protective older sister, her shows a sleepover everyone is invited to.

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“I went to my first Gracie Abrams performance last week in LA, and I just fell more in love with her music,” says her friend Camila Morrone, who met Abrams through mutual friends Kaia Gerber and Charlotte Lawrence. “I loved the simplicity of the stage design. That, and the vibey, colorful lighting made for such an intimate setting. I was in a sea of passionate, screaming, crying teenage girls and young women. I was one of them. Us Gracie Abrams fans are deeply passionate.”

At just 23, Abrams has a fan base as loyal and devoted as that of an artist 10 years into their career. In 2019, she released her first single “Mean It,” which was followed by her debut EP, Minor; its lead single “i miss you, i’m sorry” is still her most played song on Spotify with over 144 million streams. Her songs are confessional in nature, her innermost thoughts laid bare, her voice so soft and intimate in your ears that it’s been described as “whisper-core” on several occasions. Morrone recalls fangirling over Abrams after their first meeting, even though she’d already come to consider Abrams a confidante through her music. “Gracie’s lyrics about coming of age and love and relationships really spoke to me,” she continues. Abrams’ music creates the kind of emotional connection that makes her shows unlike anyone else’s. For 90 minutes, Abrams is your best friend in the world, smiling and waving back to anyone who raises a hand. In the audience, you see people crying and laughing and feeling the type of catharsis only a good song can give you. On stage, she’s doing the same.

“I feel a closeness with my audience that does feel like a casual friendship often,” Abrams says. “The moment you make eye contact and can lock in with someone who’s so clearly having an experience that’s so personal to them while a song is playing that was about something deeply personal to me… There’s a reminder of humanity there.”

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There was a time when Abrams didn’t feel this way. “I didn’t have any imagination, I guess, for what touring was [at first],” she admits. “It was so outside my comfort zone that it wasn’t even something that I looked forward to at all. I was dreading it, to be honest. I felt the impending doom all the time.” Now, after a few years of touring (including an opening stint on Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR Tour) and seeing how delicately fans handle her innermost feelings, that weight has lifted. Going into this tour, she’s feeling pure excitement. “I think everything changed a bit,” she says. “Knowing that I’ve done it before and didn’t die helped. Falling in love with everyone who I get to work with helped. I feel in each city that we’ve played, at least so far, I’ve seen familiar faces in the crowd that are always near the front … it’s like a reunion. Another thing that changed that I hope everyone feels who comes to these shows is that it’s a community that is unlike any other I’ve been a part of. I’ve missed it being off the road.”

She’s also grown her oeuvre during her few months of downtime; in February, she released her debut album Good Riddance. Upon announcement, her headlining tour in support of the record sold out immediately. “I felt almost an anticipatory guilt because it sold out before the album came out, and I was like, ‘These people don’t know what they’re seeing,’” she explains. Of course, there was nothing for her to worry about. Produced by Aaron Dessner and recorded upstate at Long Pond Studios, Good Riddance is an evolution of the sound that attracted fans in the first place: soft confessionals where no one is safe from emotion, especially Abrams... On songs like album opener “Best,” Abrams takes accountability for her own mistakes as she chronicles significant relationships in her life, romantic or otherwise. Years ago, she never would have dreamed of playing them live. Now, she looks forward to it every night. “Everything that I have released, my audience is so receptive to and also generous in response with their own stories,” she says. “I can depend on them to hold the songs gently and respond honestly. Especially live, I feel that the most.”

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In venues like Irving Plaza, the smallest on her tour, she can find that intimacy in making direct eye contact with people as they sing along. These are the little moments she doesn’t take for granted — especially as the venues become bigger. She recalls a podcast conversation between Jonah Hill and Michael Cera during Cera’s tenure on Broadway. “He said, ‘The show is never the same.’ Every single night, it’s different. And it’s specific to the group of people who are watching, and there are f*ck ups that will never happen again. There are incredible moments that will never happen again. It’s just honoring the sacred nature of something happening live in real time.”

A few weeks after our conversation, Abrams would take the stage at a venue approximately 75 times the size of where we sat for the first of her 30 opening nights on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. Her approach to performing on a stage of that magnitude is all the same; she’s just happy to be there. “I know for a fact obviously that mostly everyone who’s in that space probably doesn’t even know that I exist, so the thought is, how do you curate a set list where you’re trying to create as many hooks as possible,” she says. “I’m hyper aware that I think when I’m playing, people are going to be filling in, finding their seats, being so hyped, buying merch for Taylor, all the things. I’m just happy to watch her for 30 days. It’s like going to school. It’ll be a master class in performance.”

If she’s feeling any impending doom, it’s certainly not showing. She’s been texting directly with Swift — something she’s in “constant disbelief” about — noting that the singer is “the most generous, most encouraging, most reassuring friend,” as well as fellow tourmates, including Hayley Williams. While Abrams was a little wine-tipsy in Europe, the Paramore frontwoman slid into her DMs, leaving her unsure whether she’d hallucinated it. “She had posted a picture of jeans that I wore one time and tagged me being like, ‘Where did you get these?’ on her public story,” she says. “We’ve talked a few times now just about music and things, and it’s mostly me gushing to her about how much I admire her and how epic of a writer I think she is.”

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A songwriter first and foremost, Abrams is always thinking about the next song or album, even when on the road. With Good Riddance out in the world for just two months, now is no different. “I feel the pieces of songs that I’ve written so far have a different energy to them than this album did,” she says. “I know based on this show so far, based on what I’ve put out before, what I want to be integrating a bit more. I’ve never gone into the studio being like, ‘Today I want to make a ballad or whatever. It’s an emotional thing. But I do know that the energy feels, and there’s been a shift.” With her schedule booked through the end of October, she knows where she’s going to be and when. That helps, she says, in thinking long term: “a broader imagination in terms of next steps.”

Exiting the venue into the snow an hour later, a line of teens has already started to snake down Irving Place, despite there being nearly six hours left until she’s set to take the stage. By the time I make the 10-minute walk home, Abrams herself has taken notice and gone straight into big sister mode again. “I know how many of you are camped outside right now. It is snowing in New York today, and I am just sitting here worrying about your health,” she posts on her Instagram story for her 1.4 million followers to see. “Please prioritize your safety and your health over getting in line for the show… I just need to say it, because I love you and I want you to be safe.”

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Top Image Credits: Collina Strada clothing, Pandora jewelry

Photographs by Juan Veloz

Styling by Jan-Michael Quammie

Set Designer: Carlos Lopez

Hair: Bobby Eliot

Makeup: Loftjet

Talent Bookings: Special Projects

Video: Samuel Schultz, Samuel Miron

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert

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