The basement of The Rave Club in Milwaukee was bustling earlier this month with a colorful crowd of young folks, all decked out in the evening’s theme: rainbow.
For me, making the hour and a half drive from Madison for the chance to partake in an evening with the Midwest Princess herself was no question.
Pop star Chappell Roan’s sold-out show began with performances from three local drag queens. Instead of an opener, Roan opts to feature local talent and welcomes drag queens to the stage at each venue.
Shortly after, Roan emerged from under a cinematic bright pink light and sashayed to the middle of the stage through the fog and waited for a moment before excitedly exclaiming, “You only get to call me one thing… I am the Midwest Princess!”
As the crowd roared, Roan erupted into a performance of her first track of the evening, “Femininomenon.”
Roan’s long, bright-red curls bounced as she twirled across the stage performing her next tracks, “Red Wine Supernova” and “After Midnight.”
The pop singer-songwriter then took the occasion to connect with the crowd and introduce herself. In a moment that showcased her personal charm, Roan spoke in a baby voice and a British accent before quickly telling the crowd, “Sorry, when I get nervous, I do, like, weird ass accents.”
Throughout the night, Roan performed her new album, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess,” which dropped in September. Her performance of “HOT TO GO” was sensational and had the entire basement audience waving their arms in a queer rendition of YMCA, spelling out H-O-T-T-O-G-O.
After a few more tracks, a voice from the crowd hollered “gay rights!” over the pulsating music. Audience members cheered in support and Roan, who hails from a small town in Missouri, paused, absorbed the energy and shared her inspiration for the evening’s theme.
“Pride was canceled in my hometown, so I didn’t get to wear rainbow that day,” she said. “So I want you to know you can wear rainbow here. It’s safe.”
“It’s the point of my whole project,” Roan continued. “I just want this to be a place for two hours every night, to give people a space in the Midwest where people can be outwardly queer or hyper-femme… I didn’t come out till I was 22. I know what it feels like to be from the Midwest, I know what you feel like. This is all for you, to give you some sort of peace for a couple hours.”
Roan’s genuine passion and energy remained for the rest of the evening as she transitioned to the keys to perform her heartfelt ballad, “Kaleidoscope,” which showcased her stunning vocal range. Roan then shocked and excited the crowd with her own rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” impressing the audience and proving it could get even queerer.
Later in the evening, the crowd roared during the lyrics, “People say I'm jealous, but my kink is watching / You ruin your life, you losing your mind, you dyeing your hair,” from her track “My King is Karma."
In the evening’s final moments, the audience begged fervently for Roan to return for an encore. She took the stage once more and performed her most popular song, “Pink Pony Club,” leaving the audience with precisely what they needed.
A portion of ticket sales from Roan’s show went toward supporting the Black transgender community.
The Rise and Fall of the Midwest Princess is still on the road with upcoming shows in Canada and the East Coast. Roan will return to the Midwest in March to open for Olivia Rodrigo. You can find dates and tickets here.
Rating: Phenomenal. Yes. Pls. (A+++)