If you’ve been to enough concerts, there’s a familiar feeling when a new artist’s career is about to explode – when the audience not only sings along to the hit, but sings almost every song, half with their hands. over hearts, most dressed in artist products or artist-defining attire, and at least a few singing empathetically with tears and/or mascara flowing. That sentiment isn’t always true, but it was present at Billie Eilish concerts in 2019 and Lorde’s club shows in 2013, and even at the Killers almost 20 years ago—and without raising the bar unfairly, it was certainly on the air that Chappell Roan was full. A concert Tuesday evening at New York’s 1500-seat Webster Hall.
It comes from the songs and the artist’s presence and performance, of course, but it’s more about how the audience reacts to these things, just like this artist. they, someone who talks to them or for them or about them.
Like many of the above artists at the time, Chappell Roan is not that new. The 25-year-old Missouri-born singer signed to Atlantic in her late teens and released an EP and a number of singles in 2017, but her voice and profile didn’t quite fall into place until shortly before the pandemic. After co-writing and producing most of Olivia Rodrigo’s blockbuster album “Sour,” he works with co-writer/producer Daniel Nigro, whose career soon exploded. The story really begins with their April 2020 song “Pink Pony Club” about a small town girl who moves to West Hollywood and becomes an exotic dancer at an idealized gay nightclub: “I heard there’s a special place/ Where boys and girls are all everyday She could be a queen… Wouldn’t make my mom proud/ Makes a scene/ Sees her baby/ I know you’re going to scream.”
This song and subsequent songs such as “California”, “Naked in Manhattan”, “My Kink Is Karma” and “Femininomenon” formed an identity that developed as they interacted with fans on social media and began to tour in earnest in 2021: Glammy and she embraces pop and its femininity and shares the experiences of Gen Z and is also very strangely positive. It never had a TikTok success or major viral moment, though, and parted ways with Atlantic early last year.
But all of the above seems to have worked in his favor, helping him understand who and what he wants to be – and doesn’t want to be. A powerful singer and a master performer, she knows how to speed up her show with practice stealing, hairpins and empathetic punches: an exciting mid-set cover of Alanis Morrisette’s breakthrough single “You Oughta Know” (a three-piece song). ‘I. Roan) takes a familiar and messagey break from his material, simultaneously serving as an expression of his own intent, a music history lesson for younger fans, and a nod to older fans: Yes, I know where some of this attitude comes from, thank you very much and I respect that.
Despite all that, his new company, Island, took things so lightly that they didn’t even officially announce his signature: They let him and his audience take the lead. Because most importantly, Chappell Roan knows his people. He speaks to the audience like a friend, with an arrogant “You guys!” peak and when he asks them to be quiet for the ballads, they oblige. The show’s theme, as pronounced on Instagram, was “So you want to be a POP STAR,” and with glittery boa feathers, blush, glittery boots and jackets and more, it’s overcrowded. The Ada employees on the show obviously took the note, too, with one paying homage to Bjork’s legendary swan outfit and a few dressed as the Spice Girls, but a senior executive seemed to be channeling Phil Collins.
Naturally, the band members sped up nicely: Roan herself was wearing a flaky pink mini dress with a big star and silver glitter go-go boots on it (and a big yellow wig—channeling Hannah Montana—before she took it off). she sang three songs (release her fierce red mane), and the three female members of the group – introduced as “Lana Del Rey”, “Avril” and “David Bowie” – had similarly bright outfits; The stage was filled with glitter and sparkle, with a giant glitter-like floor and four disco balls spinning in front of it.
The main set was completed with “Casual,” which he presented with mundane splendor before a brief hiatus, as the crowd roared for a repeat, which may well be his best song to date. They got it, and the show (of course) ended with “Pink Pony Club” – as if the atmosphere wasn’t festive enough already, the song ended with confetti balls blowing up the front half of the audience as Roan danced on stage. A pink cowboy hat milks the closing choir and blows kisses to the crowd as she exits.
A superstar is born? On a Tuesday night basis, Chappell Roan was already one—it took a minute for the world to catch up.