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“Hi, it’s Chappell, I know you just landed / And I know you’re probably busy but / I would love to see you so / Call me when you can,” rang out a voicemail message moments before the eagerly awaited arrival of Chappell Roan on the stage of the Sinclair on March 1.
The 25-year-old singer-songwriter from Willard, Missouri opened for both Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour Tour” and Fletcher’s “Girl of My Dreams Tour” in 2022 before setting off on the “Naked In North America Tour” in 2023, this time as the headliner.
Roan is known for designing her costumes and makeup looks herself, frequently sharing the process on her TikTok account. An ardent lover of dressing up for her shows, Roan invited her fans to dress up with her, designating a theme for each of her tour stops and posting outfit inspiration and makeup tutorials on her social media accounts. Clad in pink cowboy hats, denim, and glitter, Cambridge’s crowd brought the pink pony club to life — a theme inspired by Roan’s single of the same name.
Opening the show with the voicemail intro of her hit song “Naked in Manhattan,” the danceable pop ballad about budding romance set the tone for the night’s performance. The song’s lyrics depict the rush of pursuing a romantic relationship: “I’d love if you knew you were on my mind / Constant like cicadas in the summertime.” Roan’s bouncy choreography conveyed that excitement effortlessly. Referencing “Mulholland Drive” and “slumber party kissing,” the song’s emphasis on embracing love, queer culture, and chasing your dreams is a trio of themes that Roan returned to throughout the night.
Her 2022 hit “Femininomenon” examines the idea of chasing the love you deserve from the perspective of an unfulfilling relationship. “You pretend to love his mother / Lying to your friends about how he’s such a damn good lover,” Roan belted as the audience sang along. Turning to her band, composed of Aubrey Harris on bass, Eliza Petrosyan on guitar, and Brittany Bowman on drums, Roan told them to “play a song with a f-cking beat” before resuming her dance across the stage, illuminated by green, pink, and white lights. A conduit for letting out the frustrations of unsatisfying love, “Femininomenon” encourages listeners to pursue substantial relationships, embrace their sexuality, and not settle for “crying at the nail salon.”
Roan shared some unreleased music as well, playing “Coffee,” “After Midnight,” and “Bitter.” The slow, melodic nature of “Coffee” captures the pain and nostalgia of getting coffee with a former romantic partner. What begins as an innocent encounter quickly devolves into one full of temptation and illusions. “After Midnight” serves as Roan’s retort to her parents who said “nothing good happens after midnight” and her dreamy celebration of the spontaneity that motivates late night adventures. Continuing this trend of memorializing her past self, “Bitter” honors the “sad angsty kid” that Roan was in high school.
“It’s a very different version of yourself when you’re in high school. I look back and I was so sad and it was so dark. Hopefully we are moving out of that space of depression and hatred for ourselves,” Roan said when introducing “Bitter.”
Her soulful vocals and just a simple acoustic guitar backing on the track create a country blues soundscape that illustrates not only the aforementioned sadness but the emotional reflection she’s done since.
“Hot To Go” is another way for Roan to accept her past selves — this time the part of herself that wanted to be a cheerleader. Leading the crowd through the cheer “H-O-T-T-O-G-O / You can take me hot to go,” Roan embodied the confidence that she gained over time, allowing herself to chase her dreams.
Inviting the audience to let out their animosity and resentment, Roan went on to perform “My Kink Is Karma.” An exploration of how good it feels to see a former partner doing terribly, Roan’s haunting vocals and the eerie red on-stage lighting provided a brief moment for listeners to embrace their not-so-healthy desire to see people get what they deserve.
Closing out the set with an encore performance of “Pink Pony Club,” Roan left fans dancing in their pink cowboy hats and belting “God, what have you done / you’re a pink pony girl.”
Roan delivered a crowd-pleasing performance full of heart and energy. Her stage presence and connection with the audience left fans eager for Roan’s return to Cambridge.
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