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Friday, December 01, 2023

Carly Rae Jepsen really is ‘So Nice’

The Canadian singer showed Madison that she’s more than a one hit wonder, but just barely.

On Nov. 4, Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen stopped in at the Sylvee for one of the last nights of her “The So Nice Tour.” 

The night began with a fascinating performance by opener Empress Of. The Honduran-American singer is based in Los Angeles where she composed for the Amazon show “The Wilds,” and created her own record label, Major Arcana, under which her recent album, “Save Me” was released. 

Lead singer and performer for Empress Of, Lorely Rodriguez, attempted to capture the audience with her wild movements and upbeat rhythm — but her efforts largely fell short. At many points during the set Rodriguez broke out into high energy repetitive dance moves that were met with a quiet crowd, a trend that even continued into the main act of the evening. Despite lackluster reactions from the audience, Empress Of never lost enthusiasm and gave those who were paying attention a show to remember. 

Rodriguez was supported on stage by her friend and DJ, Juli of Salt Cathedral. Juli, usually a front woman herself, took a brief hiatus to join her friend on Carly Rae Jepsen’s U.S. tour to provide backup vocals and DJ skills. Together the duo created an enigmatic pairing of sounds and visuals on the stage.

Large mirrors surrounded Rodriguez, a set feature that gave the audience a clear view no matter which way she was facing. Sensual lyrics such as, “if you need me, baby, take me / in the back of the room for the night,” and, “touch me like you already know me,” paired with Rodriguez’s swaying hips created an alluring performance.

Once Empress Of exited the stage, Carly Rae Jepsen’s entrance was not far behind. Following the pop culture phenomenon of her hit single “Call Me Maybe,” the Canadian singer had a lot to live up to on stage. Jepsen was joined by a three person band and additional backup singer on an ethereal stage framed by a set of fluffy clouds and twinkling lights.

Accompanied by an electrifying release of confetti over the crowd, Jepsen opened with the track “This Love Isn’t Crazy" from her 2019 album “Dedicated Side B.” The high energy intro was a misleading beginning to the rest of the show, as the audience largely refused to lose themselves in her music. 

The only exception to this rule was – of course – during the rendition of “Call Me Maybe.” Jepsen could just be heard as the crowd enthusiastically chanted the chorus with her. The singer’s most famous song came early in the set, a surprise to many who were expecting to hear the hit at the end of the night. 

With her hit out of the way, Jepsen returned to playing songs off of her recently released album “The Loneliest Time.” Her latest album was perhaps too fresh, as the audience lacked fans who knew the lyrics and could sing along. This, along with minimal and dry crowd interaction left fans feeling bored despite the catchy beats. 

Onstage Jepsen was accompanied by backup singer Sophi Bairley. In a sparkling glitter jumpsuit, Bairley often left her post on the side stage to join Jepsen as she wandered the stage and performed coordinating dance moves. The two women blended their vocals to create a harmonious sound, which went along with their matching movements. 

Despite the underwhelming audience presence throughout the show, Jepsen and her band were cheered back on to the stage for an encore. The final songs of the night included “Cut to the Feeling,” which was a fan favorite and left the show on a high note.

As the U.S. leg of her show comes to an end, the pop singer will begin playing shows in Europe and Australia early next year. 

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