‘Poppy’ concert review
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
Poppy headlined at the Westward Music Festival on the evening of September 14 at the Vogue Theatre. Poppy is a YouTube sensation turned pop star, initially gaining a following through odd, cult-like videos. These videos range from her repeating phrases in a robotic demeanor to simply staring into the camera with a sly smile on her face. Viewers began questioning whether she is a robot, in a cult, or possibly even in the Illuminati, due to their symbols often appearing in her content. These comments became so frequent that she released a video in February of 2017 titled “I Am Not In A Cult” addressing some of these rumours. With an icon such as Poppy—who takes on the appearance of a regular teenager—her messages can come across as targeting and disconcerting.
At the September 14 show, Poppy walked onto stage in a full candy-like costume, covered from head to toe in sparkles and bright colours. The stage lighting remained throughout the set as two-toned, cycling between different 1980s retro palettes. Her singing was live and pitch-perfect, which was rather impressive since her songs consist of mostly stable high notes. Because of the vocal effort this must take, the show contained an interlude about every three songs.
During each of the interludes one of Poppy’s strange videos played on a projector and the audience watched in awe. One of these videos contained about 30 seconds of Poppy introducing and consuming Doritos and a Monster Energy Drink. The shift between seeing her videos and seeing her live within minutes was jarring and helped the impression of her robotic nature. Her live dance moves were purposefully janky and rigid but held an allure of femininity regardless. Poppy did seem slightly awkward traversing the stage, but this may have also been a character quirk.
For her second outfit, Poppy wore a flesh-coloured bodysuit decorated with white petals representing a kind of feathery bird. She looked like an ethereal being simply standing in front of us to make us stare. There were two backup dancers who took centre stage during all musical interludes within songs and their passion could be felt from the very back of the theatre—it was incredible!
Sadly, the audience was not as energetic as I was expecting. There was an extremely casual feel to the atmosphere. No one pushed up against each other but rather had their personal space and kept their minimalistic grooves within it. Poppy called for audience involvement during one of her songs and received a lacklustre response, to which she jokingly asked if the audience “was dead.” This question was surprisingly met with glee.
The concert ended abruptly with no encore. Someone from the audience could heard saying, “She didn’t even play ‘Lowlife!’” (her first hit single), which was an obvious disappointment among the crowd. Despite that, she had gifted us earlier on by playing an unreleased song “Fashion After All” which was, as always, a banger. Her casual and cutesy approach to every situation was enticing and I am excited for the rest of her album Am I A Girl to be released at the end of October.