Chappell Roan: The Rise and Fall (but really just Rise) of a Midwest Princess

Posted on: November 7, 2023
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// by Cameron Tepper

As the crowd eagerly shouted along with Chappell Roan on Nov. 1st at a sold-out show in Emo’s, festooned in silk pajamas, pink bedazzled cowboy hats, or camo trucker hats emblazoned with “Midwest Princess,” they answered what we were all asking ourselves, what do we really need? A Feminimomen!

A what? The crowd shouted back to confirm, “A Feminimomen!”

In celebration of her debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, which dropped September 22, and in preparation for her opening slot on Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts world tour (making a stop at the Moody Center on February 28, 2024), Chappell gave a high-energy performance to a crowd ready to have a good time to her hits such as “Naked in Manhattan,” “My Kink is Karma,” and “Red Wine Supernova.” Speaking of, “Red Wine Supernova” was dedicated to the “ho-ass mermaids in the crowd.”

And it should be dedicated to them. They came out in full force for the night, and the packed audience didn’t let up the energy for a single second throughout her set. Especially when they learned the choreography before “HOT TO GO!” where a sea of hands erupted along with the band to mimic the spelling of the song title. The show was originally scheduled to take place at The Historic Scoot Inn, where tickets had already been sold out for months. Wisely, the concert promoters switched venues to Emo’s and the show sold an additional 700 tickets in one day.

It’s been a momentous year for Chappell, with a steady release of singles that have built up a cult-like fanbase yearning for original and fun pop music that has resonated with the queer community. And Chappell has deliberately capitalized on it. By inviting local drag queens, like Moxie and Amber Nicole Davenport to open for her – and addressing the recent political attacks on drag performers in the US in her set – Roan used her platform to voice support for the queer community and centered herself as a queer artist. Chappell reiterated in the set that a portion of all tickets goes to For the Gworls, a New York City-based nonprofit that supports Black transgender people with gender-affirming surgeries, rent, and other financial support for daily basic needs. Halfway through her set, Chappell wisely chose to cover Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” with a slow tempo that could easily fit in a Yellowjackets Season 3 teaser or a Lifetime original series’ climatic twist.

Between songs, Roan’s crowd work and vamping seemed to draw heavily from contemporary comedic voices such as Brittany Broski, with a deadpan, sardonic view on dating, relationships, and fashion. Though it sounded rehearsed and thoroughly prepped, Chappell’s comedic stylings have a unique point of view and humor that, with time, will truly become a defining characteristic of her stage persona. She also made sure to check in with the crowd that they were feeling safe and asked for staff to deliver water to people in the front row. No bad vibes or fainting on her watch!

The night ended on a high note with Chappell saving her first hit, “Pink Pony Club,” as the encore finale. An ode to a gay bar in West Hollywood that thematically tells her journey: A midwestern girl who moves to Los Angeles to discover herself and her queerness, who wants to have a good time in a safe and inclusive community. And isn’t that a message we can all get behind?