The country star — who celebrated her 30th birthday the same day — walked the red carpet with boyfriend Chase Stokes, revealing a hummingbird tattoo on her mid-back as she turned around for the cameras.
Ballerini shared a photo on Instagram at the awards show, posing with the tattoo in full view before performing onstage.
“about to perform on the freaking @vmas on my freaking 30th birthday pinch me and tune in ❤️????,” she captioned the post.
Before the show, Ballerini told MTV that she came up with the idea of matching in red with Stokes. Ballerini wore a custom silk Mônot gown with a cutout in the front. Stokes, 30, rocked a red blazer over a black shirt, with white pants and black loafers.
"It's too much to really process if I'm being so honest with you,” Ballerini said. "I'm overstimulated in every way. To be able to perform on an all-genre show like this and represent country music (hopefully well) but also just myself — I feel like it's been such a huge year in my personal life and in my career and I feel really happy to be able to present that tonight. My mom's here, my man's here, my friends are here. I'm happy."
The “Penthouse” singer shared the stage with several superstars, including Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Demi Lovato, Doja Cat, Lil Wayne, Olivia Rodrigo, Anitta, Stray Kids, and the ceremony's host, Nicki Minaj, amongst others.
Global Icon Award recipient Sean “Diddy” Combs and video vanguard award winner Shakira performed later in the evening.
Although this year's VMAs was Ballerini's first time in attendance, the singer-songwriter knows how to rock an award show outfit. She co-hosted the CMT Music Awards with Kane Brown in April, and changed into many fun looks to set the mood
She also sang her 2022 song "IF YOU GO DOWN (I’M GOIN’ DOWN TOO)" with RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants joining her in vocal harmony, as a way of protesting the laws that target drag performers.
Earlier in the week, the singer teased her VMAs debut on Instagram, captioning the pre-birthday post with, “THIRTY to life would go quicker with them ???? now let’s *officially* bring in this next decade on tuesday at the VMA’s shall we?!”