Beneath her music’s glossy sheen lies the rebellious, determined spirit of someone who needed to fight for her space
Pride Month remained in full swing at LA’s Fonda Theatre for a night of electropop. In the past, other gay faves Carly Rae Jepsen and MUNA both played equally thrilling shows at this venue, with its intricate but not showy décor and an ideal amount of moving space. This is the spot Charli XCX should be performing Charli Live, not the Wiltern and its tiering system—classism, but make it pop.
The star of the evening, singer Kim Petras, creates bratty bops with a defiantly decadent nature and beats that slap like CSS. A member herself of the LGBTQ community, Petras spoke of how she turned to the videos of Gwen and Britney in the mid-‘00s for comfort during difficult periods. Now, her music shares their glossy sheen, but beneath it lies the rebellious, determined spirit of someone who needed to fight for her space. “I’m so glad you could join me tonight, in pop music!” Petras cried, her accent giving the word “pop” just the right bright-eyed inflection.
Petras, a prompt, working-class-minded girl who understands Mondays come with bedtimes, went on a minute before her scheduled 9:30 start. In the tar pit-paced city of LA, this felt akin to a statement on promptness. The “What’s up, bitch?!” introduction of “Got My Number” provided an appropriate entrance, a bubbly, relatively fresh single for the crowd to sink their teeth into. The following selections, “Hills” and “Hillside Boys,” made just as much sense considering many in the crowd could identify with the sentiments expressed. Not everyone can afford to “pop one in the hills,” but a girl can dream, right?
The sherbet-hued lighting and Grecian pillared backdrop suited Petras, though her backpack-wearing hypeman failed to accomplish the same effect. Petras handled the stage well enough on her own; if anything, she needed to be onstage alone or flanked by two backup dancers with set choreography. That way, she can perform and get her cheer squad without the audience becoming distracted by a flailing jansport. Enough already happens onstage with Petras dipping it low while Mario Kart and Pokémon play on loop behind her, diversions which also admittedly don’t always distract you from whom she makes all her music with.
As someone without a full-length album out, Petras still performed a lengthy set, 22 songs to be exact, enough for three separate outfits to boot. Her backing tracks sometimes help carry her along, but I admit she sounded far better than I expected. The rougher, hardened sensibilities of “Personal Hell” and German of “In the Next Life” belied the dainty melodrama of “If U Think About Me” or “All the Time.” Her music does adhere to a formula of upbeat, shimmering hooks and choruses, but at least she gives off different characters each time.
The finale delivered some of her finest moments, “I Don’t Want It at All” and a cover of Charli’s “Unlock It.” As a matter of taste, she’d do well to switch the order of the encore to “Sweet Spot” and then “Heart to Break,” easily her best song and the perfect end to an evening like this. Or maybe “getting to the sweet spot” referred to her show the very next evening. If she keeps creating club-ready slappers that require concert-level bass to reach their full potential, she can expect many more performances to follow.