“Believe it or not, this is my first LA show!” Kim Petras told a sold-out crowd towards the end of her set at the Troubadour last night, who roared back their approval to be in attendance at such an auspicious occasion. Well, let’s be more specific: The show sold out in just two minutes, placing Kim in the rarefied air of enormous pop stars with passionate fan bases who watch for ticket drops like they’re season finales of a Bravo reality show. Sure, this historic West Hollywood venue may only hold 400 people, but of those in attendance, every single one appeared to be fully ready to embrace their status as Kim Petras super fan; not a bad way for any pop queen to begin her reign.
And of course, by gracing the Troubadour’s stage Petras is aligning herself with a wave of stars who came before her — playing the iconic LA venue is practically a rite of passage for an artist on the rise. But I would quibble slightly with her assertion that this is her first LA show, the technicality being her opening slot for Troye Sivan during his Bloom tour last year, which stopped by the Greek Theatre right around Halloween. Petras’ costume was “bloody and slutty,” natch, but she seemed to struggle slightly with the theatre’s massive outdoor stage — which would later be filled by a two-story backdrop for Sivan’s set — and a sold-out crowd who might not have been as familiar with her music. It wasn’t a bad performance by any means, in fact, it was great, but it still left me wondering how it would feel to see her headline a room full of her own fans. Maybe that’s what she was referring to last night, too.
So who is Kim Petras? First and foremost, she’s an incredibly engaging new pop star positioned to have a huge 2019, and one with a personal connection to the queer and trans communities. After transitioning as a teenager, Petras has gone on to build an international following who eagerly await her one-off, cheeky pop songs, which recently culminated in the release of her first EP, Turn Off The Lights Vol. 1. Yes, it was Halloween-themed.
Petras’ songs are dripping in desire and delivered with a certain amount of indolence, irony, and riches-as-love theorizing, but never enough to squash their innate vulnerability. After working with massive pop producers like Dr. Luke, recently collaborating with PC Music’s Sophie, and working with the quickly-rising DJ trio Cheat Codes, she’s helping pave the way for transgender artists to focus on their art first and foremost, instead of having to rehash their politics or gender every time they’re in the spotlight.
In that sense, the show at the Troubadour was a glimpse into the world-building that Kim is capable of. Kicking off the set with one of her newest tracks, “If U Think About Me…” and an older, fan-favorite, “I Don’t Want It At All” (well, if you consider 2017 to be “older”) she showed off her penchant for pouty pop anthems that embody a willful, demanding energy, which is a welcome respite amid the recent popularity of dreary, sad-eyed pop. (Looking at you, Drake.) Of course, her songs occasionally stray into more emotional or disappointed themes, but even then, there’s a lack of self-seriousness that’s refreshing.