Off Campus, Arts

Boston Calling Day Three: Chappell Roan Proves To Be a Powerful Newcomer

With her face caked in white paint, drawn-on eyebrows, garish blush, and eyeshadow, Chappell Roan sang her way through a well-rehearsed set at Boston Calling on Sunday that was not simply music—it was theater.

During the midday set, Roan’s powerful alto traversed across her 2023 debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess and included her single, “Good Luck, Babe!” released this April.

Roan opened with “Femininomenon,” a campy number that starts with slow piano and builds to a synth-heavy, catchy chorus.

“Hit it like rom-pom-pom-pom / Get it hot like Papa John / Make a b—h go on and on / It’s a femininomenon,” Roan sings.

After the first song, Roan shed her heavy red coat to display a bejeweled and red-tasseled leotard underneath. The gimmick drew screams from the crowd.

She followed up with “Picture You,” a song about longing during which Roan sang adoringly to a blonde wig propped up on her mic stand. It was a moment of humor that didn’t sacrifice the musical quality of the ballad.

The set’s climax was Roan’s performance of “HOT TO GO!,” when she taught the audience a now-viral dance where she used her arms to spell out the letters of the lyrics. At the chorus’s poppy beat, the crowd transformed into a sea of dancers.

(Featured Image Courtesy of Alive Coverage)

The visuals on the screen directly behind Roan displayed the lyrics to the songs as she enticed new fans to sing along. While business-savvy, the move did reveal an insecurity to Roan’s presence.

Playing lyrics on the big screen emphasized how new to fame Roan is in comparison to performers like Hozier, Megan Thee Stallion, and The Killers, all of whom performed later in the night.

But with a crowd of 40,000 lined up for her 3:00 p.m. set, Roan manifested her rising star power. Throughout the festival, crowds were dotted with pink cowboy hats in reference to her 2022 single “Pink Pony Club.” It was clear that many people came just to see Roan.

Upheld by sips from a blue Hydro Flask between numbers, Roan’s voice proved strong and dynamic. “Good Luck, Babe!” showed the capacity of her higher register and “My Kink Is Karma” highlighted the strength of her deep alto.

The set’s finale was “Pink Pony Club,” a song Roan has said is a metaphor for her own concerts. It references a girl escaping a family and culture that disapproves of her queer sexuality and fleeing to a space where people can find community in being themselves.

Roan let her audience sing the final chorus, and the strength of the collective voice on those words reverberated long after the singer left stage.

“I’m gonna keep on dancing,” Roan sang.

May 31, 2024

Leave a Reply