About a third of the way through her set on Thursday night, Carly Rae Jepsen took off her iridescent, floor-length plastic trench coat and tied it around her waist. The move was one of necessity — the venue was heating up — a carefully casual, perfectly reasonable gesture that all but summed up her essence as a star: polished, put together, trendy, and still just slightly awkward. And while millennial teens might’ve grown up muttering awkward to each other under our breath at pointed intervals as a scathing jab, that’s not at all how the aesthetic hits in 2019.
For those who love her, Carly’s earnest, regular-girl dance moves, shyness, and quirky sense of style are all part of the draw — she’s the pop star next door, who might accidentally trip while waving to you as she walks up the steps. In a bleak world where someone else is getting “canceled” every day for either truly heinous (or, sometimes, truly harmless) actions, the fact that all of Jepsen’s imperfections are acknowledged up front and center is a welcome respite.
As a live performer and, critics argue, perhaps on record, Jepsen brings all of the enthusiasm but also a modicum of stiffness that, for those who love her, is entirely relatable. Between the massive casual fan base she accrued off the power of her ultra-massive viral hit “Call Me, Maybe” — the kind of international powerhouse all pop stars secretly hope to create — and the diehard, cultish fans of her 2015 release E•MO•TION (present!), a Jepsen show is brimming with excited, passionate young people who know all the words, and who aren’t too cool to scream them back. On the way home from the show, they’ll be making memes about the experience; Carly is probably already Queen of Anaheim House Of Blues, by now.
Clad in a black, patent leather one shoulder onesie under that iridescent trench, patterned tights that mimic the sexiness of fishnets without actually going that sheer, big shiny hoops, and her platinum blonde hair pinned back with a casual side bang, Jepsen was understated but dynamic during her tour opener in Anaheim, just a hair outside of Los Angeles’ normal scope; the diehards made their way all the way out here, others may hang on for her loop back in August for two nights at The Wiltern. Although, fans planning to go this route might want to get tickets quick because one date is already sold out.