The tiaras were overflowing at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on Tuesday night (Nov. 14). An ecstatic, sold-out crowd came together to witness the latest stop of Chappell Roan‘s U.S. tour, where the rising pop star performed the entirety of her Dan Nigro-produced debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.
Decked out in black and white lingerie, black knee-high boots and black latex arm sleeves, the flame-haired singer stormed and twirled across the stage as she performed a roughly 90-minute set composed of fan favorites like “Casual,” “Red Wine Supernova,” “Naked in Manhattan” and “My Kink is Karma.”
Roan is a powerhouse vocalist with a potent stage presence and a gift for banter, and she showed off the full breadth of her talent on Tuesday night. “Who brought their boyfriend? Raise your hand if you brought your boyfriend,” said Roan during one interlude clearly referencing the scattered straight men in the audience as a nod to her largely queer and female fanbase. “Does your boyfriend know who I am?”
Judging by the energy of the packed audience many dressed in red-and-black getups themed to the music video for “My Kink is Karma,” per Roan’s instructions at the outset of her tour and the strength of the star’s performance, boyfriends across the country may well be learning Roan’s name before too long, whether they mean to or not. In addition to her own tour, which picks back up in Australia on Nov. 24 before resuming in Europe next month, the singer is slated to open for Olivia Rodrigo on a string of dates on the superstar’s U.S. trek next year while also embarking on a second U.S. leg of her Rise and Fall tour starting in February.
Below, Billboard recaps five highlights from Tuesday’s night’s electrifying performance.
Drag Gets Its Due
As she has at every tour stop, Roan enlisted several local drag queens to open her Wiltern show: in this case, Sweet Tea, Serena Infiniti-LiqCour and Missile Aneous, the latter of whom served as emcee (queens also handed out tiaras in the lobby prior to the show). For roughly an hour, the three lip-synched for their live(lihood)s to tracks including Carrie Underwood‘s “Before He Cheats” (Sweet Tea), Kylie Minogue‘s “Supernova” (Serena Infinit-Liqcour) and Sia‘s “Chandelier” (Missile Aneous) in front of the delighted crowd, who were heavily encouraged to throw down a gratuity for the performers at a designated spot in the theater’s lobby or via Venmo and Cashapp. “Those are your local L.A. queens. Those are your girls and if you’re not sure how drag works, you tip, b—h,” said Roan after taking the stage. “You tip the queens.”
Roan, who identifies as queer, also emphasized that a portion of every ticket purchase on the tour goes to Black Gworls, a non-profit that helps Black transgender people pay for rent, gender-affirming surgeries, medicine, doctor’s visits and travel assistance.
A ‘Hot to Go!’ Dance-Along
The music video for “Hot to Go!”, one of the new album’s most party-starting tracks, opens with Roan teaching her grandparents a dance themed to the song though the crowd on Tuesday didn’t seem to need much instruction as Roan led them in the simple choreography, which amounts to a kind of cross between “YMCA” and the macarena. “Try and do this in latex, y’all. This is crazy to do in latex,” said Roan after concluding the group dance-along. “‘Hot to Go’ in latex? Hot to no.”
Paying Tribute to Her Past
Prior to linking up with Nigro for The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, Roan put out an EP on Atlantic Records (which subsequently dropped her) while still a teenager. As she previously told Billboard, the EP’s more sullen sound was a reflection of her efforts to “be this very well-managed, put-together pop girl” before her creative vision reached full flower.
“I have an entire EP prior to ‘Pink Pony Club,’” she said on Tuesday night. “And it was differentit was like dramatic, but not in a fun way. You know, like, this is dramatic, but it’s fun, so it’s fine! I don’t necessarily identify with that version of myself anymore, that 17-year-old angsty, witchy girl, but I do honor her.” She subsequently launched into a performance of her 2018 single “School Nights,” putting her all into a song whose lyrics express a desire to go back to a simpler time even as Roan herself looks boldly forward.
A Gaga Moment
As she’s done throughout the tour, Roan instructed the crowd to “put your f—ing paws up” before launching into a sterling cover of Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance.” It’s a savvy cover choice; not only is the song well-suited to her voice, it also serves to draw a throughline from Gaga’s late-noughties career ascent to her own. Roan, who would have been 10 years old when Gaga rose to fame, clearly internalized the superstar’s flair for the theatrical, and her “Bad Romance” rendition serves as a tip of the hat to Gaga’s continued resonance in the pop landscape 15 years since she broke through.
Strip away all the theatrics not that you would want to and you’re left with Roan’s remarkable singing voice, which is built for both bangers and ballads. Her instrument finds perhaps its most powerful expression on the latter, with her performance of tracks like “Kaleidoscope” and “Coffee” showcasing its clarity and depth (she has aptly described her voice as a “yodel”). For my money, the vocal showstopper on Tuesday was “California,” a gorgeous, seemingly autobiographical slow-burn that addresses homesickness (the lyrics continually reference Roan’s home state of Missouri), self-doubt, discouragement and the elusiveness of dreams, no matter how tightly-held they may be.
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