BY MASON BISSADA
Kim Petras Wednesday night concert at the Mezzanine in San Francisco, the fitting final U.S. stop on her Broken tour, was a euphoric, rave-like wonder.
Petras, who first came onto the pop-scene with her hit “I Don’t Want It at All,” sold out the SoMa venue/night-club and transformed it into her personal shrine. That is not to say the stage was covered with superfluous props, back-up dancers and other distractions. On the contrary, Petras needed only a microphone, DJ, a few background displays and a “WOO-AH” sign (a sort of mating call among the Petras fandom) to engage and mesmerize her crowd.
What gave the the roughly 17 song, hour-long concert a shrine-like vibe was the way in which her fans seemed to worship her and her confidence. Petras carries a presence that is reminiscent of her pop star contemporary Ariana Grande. She commands the stage despite her petite stature and dollish appearance. She was swearing between tracks and encouraging the crowd to sing along and go wild.
Though psychedelic clips of Jigglypuff and Mario Kart would occasionally flash across the screens behind her, the attention would never leave Petras herself. Her wardrobe would change from white to black to blue, but her intangible glow continued to radiate off of her throughout her entire set. Bangers such as the instantly addictive “Heart to Break” had every pit attendee’s hands in the air, grasping as if she were some sort of pop messiah.
Petras dressed the part of pop-sensation to a tee. Her skin-tight dresses would color-coordinate with the stage lights and stand out amongst the smoke and wind machines. She wore her hair down with a single bun atop the corner of her head. Her high-heels were high, but not so high that they restricted her mobility. Make no mistake, this was no Lady Gaga masquerade. There were no extravagant wigs or meat dresses to confuse the audience or make some audacious statement. Petras let her music and vocals speak for themselves, and her aesthetic was just icing on the trippy cake.
The only other soul sharing the stage with Petras was her DJ/songwriter/producer Aaron Joseph. Joseph was placed behind a turntable desk in the traditional DJ role, but would often run to center-stage and mouth along to Petras vocals, pumping his fists and running back and forth in an attempt to get the crowd even more lively. While Joseph deserves a ton of credit for writing and producing many of Petras hit songs, perhaps this particular brand of showmanship wasn’t the best choice for the betterment of the concert. While nothing short of an earthquake could distract the crowd from Petras stage presence, Joseph’s antics would sometimes subtract from the spectacle of her performance. At the end of the night, her name is the one that sells out venues, not his.
Petras now age 26, first came under the media spotlight as a teenager in her home country of Germany for being one of the youngest people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Since her music career took off, Petras has been a staunch LGBTQ+ advocate and a voice for the trans community. It was fitting that the U.S. leg of her sold-out tour would end in San Francisco, one of the most prideful places on the planet.
As the crowd held up their phone lights as proxy-lighters for a slow(er) jam, one concertgoer described the pit as “a gay sea anemone.”
A month ago, Petras released her first studio album, Clarity, which peaked at #7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers charts. This October, Petras will be releasing Turn Off The Light Vol. II, the sequel to her Halloween mixtape of the same name. Her star is ascending rapidly, as she is currently bringing in 2.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Petras has all the makings of a potential pop sensation. She’s young, fun, clearly talented, and stands for a message that is worth sharing. Time will tell if she can turn this potential into reality.