Seeing that our girl Lizzo is everywhere right now, it’s wild to think that her first step from being Minnesota’s sweetheart to a national platform happened five years ago today. That’s right, it was a half-decade ago that, on an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, Lizzo – along with Go 95.3‘s Sophia Eris and Doomtree‘s Lazerbeak, made her national television debut performing “Bus Passes and Happy Meals.”
To mark the occasion, along with the original performance, we asked Lazerbeak to reflect on his memories from that day, as well as attach Go 95.3‘s Chaz Kangas‘ original review of the performance from inside the historic Ed Sullivan Theater as well!
Check out Lazerbeak’s memories, Lizzo’s performance and the contemporary recap below:
I mostly just remember what a crazy blur it all was. I flew into NYC late the night before and practiced with Ryan, the drummer, at his apartment. Then we had to be there at like 6:00am to load-in and get setup. It was right before David Letterman ended the show, so I remember talking tons to all the crew and union guys about what was next for them. Hung out in a tiny room in the basement while Lizzo and Sophia did glam upstairs and Ryan’s barber friend came through and gave us both haircuts haha. That’s probably the most famous I’ve ever felt, having a barber travel to me to give me a haircut in the basement before the David Letterman show. Robert Downey Jr was the main guest and I remember there was just a limo that waited by the stage door until David announced him and he just ran out of the limo and onto the couch, knocked out the interview, and headed right back to the limo. We had some technical difficulties as they were counting down to our performance and we barely got the tracks back up and running before we were live. Somehow it all worked out though and then three minutes later it was over and the union crew was ushering us out the door so they could wrap by 5:00 PM and go pick up their kids from school. I remember just standing out on the corner with my gear like, “did that really just happen?” Then for the next six hours you just sort of hope to hell that everything went alright. We all met up at some Irish bar on the lower east side that had TVs and some open tables and convinced the bartender to put on the show. Tons of hugs and hi-fives and lots of celebration drinks. The next morning I messed up my stops on the train going to the airport, missed my flight, and got stuck at the airport for 12 hours, which immediately brought me back down to earth and greatly humbled me. Haha, I probably needed that.
Chaz Kangas’ Original Recap from the following day:
Lizzo made her national television debut on Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday evening. Emanating from the Ed Sullivan Theater, the same location where the Beatles made their American television debut, Lizzo’s appearance on the show came just in time as Letterman begins winding down almost 22 years on CBS.
By the way, she also absolutely rocked it.
We were told by Lizzo’s people that David Letterman’s talent booker saw the “Batches & Cookies” and the “Bus Passes and Happy Meals” videos, and subsequently offered Lizzo a performance on the show.
I had the fortune of catching her performance live from the theater itself. Having been to a number of tapings before, I found a familiar drill. You arrive about three or four hours before the taping to get your ticket, you get divided into groups and ushered through security, and you’re told how to laugh and applaud, as well as what noises not to make, including “Wooooooooo!” Yes, before we entered the theater we were informed of a strict No-“woo-ing” policy, but while the good-natured Late Show intern was explaining this to us, a local passing through attempted to pick an argument with him, firmly asserting “Sometimes you just have to ‘woo!'”
Once inside, I was seated in the back row of the balcony, giving me a great view of the entire stage and audience. Late Show announcer Alan Kaltar came out first, giving us the rundown of the show, including Robert Downey Jr., Lizzo, and — as an added bonus — he announced that E Street Band legend Nils Lofgren would be sitting in with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. This meant we were treated to not only the customary pre-show concert, but extended performances during the breaks, all of which were excellent.
Between Lofgren and the Orchestra putting on top-tier jam after jam, an emotional and hilarious Robert Downey Jr. interview, and a classic Letterman razzing of American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson, the audience had been through a lot. Fortunately, Lizzo came out to absolutely galvanize.
As Sophia Eris, Lazerbeak, and Har Mar Superstar’s drummer Ryan McMahon were setting up behind her, Lizzo walked out in an outfit that read “I Feel You Andre,” a shout-out to Andre 3000 of Outkast who’s been putting social messages on his clothing all summer on tour. Her dancing to Shaffer’s grooves and waving to the audience during the commercial break appeared to charm the crowd. Once Letterman introduced her, plugging the album (“Titled, what else?”) Lizzobangers, it was on.
For “Bus Passes and Happy Meals,” Lizzo didn’t stay standing in the stationary marks that most television talk show performances seem relegated to. Rather, she approached the audience from the stage, talking to them directly, as if she wasn’t performing for millions of viewers, but just those of us in the theater. While her opening request for the audience to clap along resulted in a lot of people who shouldn’t attempt clapping on-beat trying their hardest, she did manage to win over the crowd quickly.
Lizzo’s rapid-fire delivery and crescendoing on-stage energy went over well in the historic theater, soon getting even the balcony to react with their hands up as if there were at an actual concert and not a seated television taping. Lizzo and company showed no signs of nervousness, delivering like absolute pros. Afterward, the audience gave her a thunderous ovation, with many even breaking the sacred “Woo”-rule. Dave walked across the stage to congratulate her while signing off and Lizzo showed Dave her affection in the form of an arm around him.
Once the cameras were off and the audience began filing out, Lizzo remained onstage to soak in the afterglow, radiating with sheer zeal. It’s understandable, not only did she give the best late night hip-hop television debut since Odd Future’s 2011 outing on Jimmy Fallon, but she also got to hug Paul Shaffer. From what I could see, Lizzo even got to leave with the cue card of Dave’s introduction.
Sometimes you just have to “Woo.”