The internet was left baffled during Olivia Rodrigo’s opening performance at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards after the set appeared to be malfunctioning. 

Olivia, 20, appeared confused as fireworks were set off during her song “Vampire” at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday, September 12. The singer – who wore a fire red bralette and matching miniskirt for her set – looked around, seemingly concerned, as she continued to sing. A faux tree fell on one side of the stage before a curtain fell from the ceiling in front of the California native. A stage director was then seen rushing on stage, ushering Olivia off the stage.

While the commotion did not stop her performance, social media blew up with fans voicing their confusion over the ordeal. 

“Girl, is this part of Olivia Rodrigo’s performance?! What is going on?! #VMAS” one fan wrote via Twitter immediately following the performance. “I swear I believed something went wrong on Olivia Rodrigo’s set but it was part of the act. She got me good! #VMAs,” another wrote, while another added, “i low key thought the stage was falling apart lol i was like someone is getting firedd.”

Some fans were convinced that Olivia’s on-stage antics were simply a nod to her recently released music video for the hit song, which also featured glitchy special effects. “Olivia Rodrigo is so SICKENING….,” one fan tweeted. “Olivia is really the gen z it pop starr. I loved the transitions,” another added. 

It remains unclear if the malfunction was intentional or a near disastrous situation, but one thing is for sure, Selena Gomez was concerned. Cameras caught the “Love You Like a Love Song” singer covering her ears with a flushed look on her face while the fireworks were exploding in front of her. 

Just hours prior to her performance, Olivia – who was nominated for three awards at the show – shut down rumors that she was feuding with “Look What You Made Me Do” artist Taylor Swift

“I don’t have beef with anyone,” she told Rolling Stone. “I’m very chill. I keep to myself. I have my four friends and my mom, and that’s really the only people I talk to, ever. There’s nothing to say … There’s so many Twitter conspiracy theories. I only look at alien-conspiracy theories.”

Taylor, 33, for her part, was seen sitting with Ice Spice while Olivia was on stage and clapped enthusiastically for the “Deja Vu” artist. 

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