With her singles “Pink Pony Club” and “Femininomenon” gaining viral traction for the LA-by-way-of-Missouri singer Chappell Roan, the artist ventures out on her first headlining romp around North America. Her debut record “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess” features some extremely infectious pop sensibilities along with some more tender indie rock and acoustic leanings. Alongside producer Dan Nigro, notable for working with Gen Z superstars like Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Gray, Roan’s record takes a more sultry and overtly queer oeuvre. Each stop on the tour features a different theme for the audience, the opening acts and even Roan herself to dress in and Fort Lauderdale’s was deemed “My Kink is Karma” with lingerie and the colors black, red, and white on full display.
Kat Wilderness and Suzie Toot
Opting to feature drag performers in each city she performs in, the Fort Lauderdale show was opened by Kat Wilderness and Suzie Toot who shared emcee duties between their respective sets. Suzie Toot, who in another life performs as an actor in productions such as Slow Burn Theatre’s Mary Poppins is perfectly theatrical in all her flair. Suzie dons flaming red finger waves, makeup that gives Betty Boop a run for her money and an unmistakably 1920s drop waist red dress. In the past I’ve described her as “Carol Burnett on acid” or even “Ann Miller on bath salts,” and as she taps her legs into a frenzied, jazzified rendition of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” it’s easy to see why Chappell chose to feature Suzie Toot. Closing out the set was Miami-based drag queen and transwoman Kat Wilderness. Being a regular featured performer at staple venues like Palace Bar, Kat’s unabashedly confident demeanor reveals some chops to rival that of many pop princesses. In her Ariana Grande mix, she’s armed with a red pleather corset, knee high boots and a snatched ponytail that would leave Ari absolutely quaking. Revealing a transgender pride flag from her boot to “God Is A Woman,” Kat’s performance re-affirms that even in states where queer rights are under attack, queer existence is resistance.
As an audience of mostly young, queer kids adorned in their best My Kink is Karma-inspired lewks quakes with anticipation, the backing band of Chappell Roan teases the synthesizer intro to “Femininomenon.” Strutting onto the stage in a black pleather bodysuit with rock and roll fishnets, tossing her massive bright red curls to reveal a classic red lip and bright cerulean eyeshadow she gives a vision of a young Tori Amos as Frank N Furter from Rocky Horror.
Chappell Roan’s playful call-and-response lyrics tossed in with a tinge of brattiness on “Red Wine Supernova” makes her rapport with the audience so intimate even from the distance of the incredibly high Revolution Live stage. Her cheeky nature is such an event to witness on a track like “HOT TO GO!” where the dedicated fans already know every step to the choreography, sans some poor fellow dressed in all black, up in the balcony whom she called out to join in the fun. However, Roan even at the young age of 25 does not take to the stage with diva behavior. While she saunters about confidently like a queen surveying her subjects, her banter on the microphone details stories of a midwest girl seeing an alligator for the first time in Florida, or her guncles who both live right in Fort Lauderdale and came to see the show. She may be cocky but between songs you can absolutely feel someone grateful to be performing every night.
The momentum of the show danced along at a fervent pace for a solid hour until Chappell brought the mood down a bit with the songs “Coffee” and “Bitter.” The latter is a non album single released in 2018 and the singer even notes some distance from the headspace she was in when she wrote the song. The acoustic moment was cut short due to an audience member in the front row passing out, to which Chappell Roan took the appropriate action to pause the show as house staff attended to the individual. Opting to go back into an upbeat mood, the band played a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, which reaffirms that the Chappell Roan is definitely if not the second coming then definitely an extreme disciple of the Church of Gaga. While pop artists like Lily Allen and Marina, formerly with the Diamonds, have forsaken camp for mainstream credence, Chappell Roan is bringing the fun, campy and queer sensibilities of Gaga to a new generation.
Closing with “California” and “Pink Pony Club” in her encore, Chappell Roan’s “Midwest Princess Tour” Feels like witnessing a star about to be born. There are those who can claim they saw Lady Gaga perform at the Knitting Factory, or those who saw Lana Del Rey at Bowery Ballroom, but seeing Chappell Roan in the intimate Revolution Live space feels like the beginning of a rockstar biopic. There is no doubt the singer is on her way to massive acclaim, especially with her next South Florida show already being announced as opening on Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS Tour” which comes to the much bigger Miami venue, Kaseya Center in March.
Chappell Roan Setlist 10.26.2023
Red Wine Supernova
Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl
HOT TO GO!
Bad Romance (Lady Gaga Cover)
Naked in Manhattan
My Kink Is Karma
Pink Pony Club