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Chappell Roan: Femininity Reborn (a cultural ICON)

On Saturday, June 1, 2024, the first day of LGBTQ+ pride month, I visited a quaint little venue called the Kalamazoo State Theatre — promptly located in Kalamazoo, Mich. — where I saw a humble yet bombastic up-and-coming star perform. This was Chappell Roan’s night to shine. 

 Flamboyant would be an understatement, Chappell Roan is death-drop-dynamic, vogue superstar posing, red lipstick wearing, flashy and fun. The outwardly-femme superstar shocked and awed a packed audience at the State Theatre — over 1500 of Roan’s most dedicated fans in and outside of Michigan came down to Kzoo to support her. 

The theme: red and kinky. The crowds’ outfits surprised and wow’d me even more than Roan’s. Around the block, waiting to get into the venue, hundreds of fans were dressed in stunning red kink-gear, fishnets, chains and some even dressed up with clown makeup. 

Stunned would be an understatement, I was blown away by the amount of coordination and creativity displayed by Roan’s fans — I mean, even I was outdressed there. 

Roan seems to have a commanding finger on the pulse of not only her fanbase, noy only queer youth, not only 80s throwback pop-music fans, but to the culture as a whole. The now 26-year old Roan has outwardly stated her support for drag performers (even as the attacks and legislation against them in red states have raged on.) She has turned down performing at the White House during their ‘pride’ celebration, notably stating that “We want liberty, justice and freedom for all. When you do that, that’s when I’ll come.”

Additionally, Roan also said, during a festival performance, “That means freedom in trans rights, that means freedom in women’s rights, and … it especially means freedom for all oppressed people in occupied territories.”

The opposition to the current Presidential administration’s foreign policy in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a hot-button issue, not only for the voting populace in general but to the youth voting base that President Biden relied on to get elected in the first place. Roan’s middle-finger to the request of the administration was lauded by a crowd of thousands at New York. 

Her style, her status in the pop-music zeitgeist, her camp, her flamboyance, her sensitivity: this is what I mean when I say Chappell Roan is a musical and cultural ICON.

Now, back to the music. 

The show started off with a trio of drag performers to open up for Roan. A mix of kings and queens vogued, danced and lip-synched to various songs. One king even lip-synched and performed to a variety of different Olivia Rodrigo songs. Dollar bills were flung to the stage to financially support the artists and people simply adored the three performers. 

Chappell Roan followed after the opening act and welcomed the crowd once she got on stage. Her recognition of the start of pride month got roaring applause from the audience. 

“Femininomenon” opened up the show, a song which got a triumphant amount of cheers and audience participation. A true slay on Roan’s part to open up the show with this song, it set the tone perfectly. 

Hits like “HOT TO GO,” “Casual,” “Red Wine Supernova” and “Good Luck Babe” were perfect for the audiences’ voices to completely take over the intimate venue. Soaring choruses were complimented by incredible yet not distracting light-work. A sea of red, white and pink flooded the theatre and completely took over Kalamazoo for one sexy and gorgeous night.

After her 13 song performance was finished, a chant of “ENCORE, ENCORE” by the audience started. They knew what they wanted: more. After three minutes of chanting and clever light-work by the venue — indicating that the crowd needed to get louder — Roan got back on stage with one of her guitarists and performed “California” before being joined by the rest of her band and finished with the fantastic and dynamic “Pink Pony Club.”

On my end, there would not be any major criticisms of Roan's performance. One of her best qualities is the control over her audience that she has — it was simply mesmerizing and really liberating to sing with hundreds of other like-minded individuals. We all had one goal that we achieved together: to have the time of our lives. 

Keep slaying Chappell Roan. XOXO. 



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