Queer queen of pop

LP gives a ‘90s pop performance brimming with androgynous pride at Ace of Spades

LP rocking out at Ace of Spades.

LP rocking out at Ace of Spades.

Photo by skye cabrera

I was not a fan of Laura Pergolizzi, who goes by LP. Before I was invited to see her kick off her North American tour with a sold-out show at Ace of Spades this past Friday, I would have assumed from the name that she was an obscure indie band. But now I’m a super fan: dissecting songs, passing her 100-million-views YouTube videos along to friends and even cultivating more queer pride within myself.

From the minute the crew starts setting up the stage, LP’s diverse sea of fans emits excitement over the slightest lighting shift. And then, 46 chromosomes worth of androgynous perfection, with a gorgeous Bob Dylanesque curly mane, in a burgundy bomber jacket, backed by an incredible band, commits to us instantly. The Long Island-born singer-songwriter has us in her trap.

As she seduces us with her power on “Other People,” the group next to me is sent into a whirlwind of fascination. On “Tightrope,” she offers us hope as the crowd passionately sings along: “Flew down the clouds together, but don’t look down, not ever; don’t ask why, just look out into forever.”

LP grips our attention as she moves from melancholy to utter joy—enchanting lullabies in one song and punk rock pop party in the next. Inciting us to reminisce about an old toxic lover on “Switchblade”: “We were electric, we were wild and free, and I thought you meant it.”

She plays the ukulele intimately, as if it is an extension of her limbs and veins. She’s got moves like Jagger, the heart of a Montague, the wordplay of a young Paul Simon and a femininity all her own. And her voice is like a philharmonic angel you might expect to hear at the pearly gates, but with enough grit to let you know she’s been through some shit with life and love, and she’s here to tell you it’ll be OK.

The sensual, be-yourself anthem “Up Against Me” brings a tone of radical self-acceptance and love. “And don’t believe the government, or anything you read. ‘Cause nothing really matters when you’re up against me.”

“When We’re High” ignites a little THC and invites us to abandon our defenses and, well, get high.

Her penchant for owning her identity, onstage and in cyberspace, entices her fans, and new ones such as myself, to transmit emotion fearlessly and live far more authentically than appeasing the learned social norms of our genders.

I had read about the moments she spent behind the spotlight, writing songs for artists such as Rihanna and Backstreet Boys and working with the legendary producer Linda Perry. She’s been in the game and singing her heart out to bi-curious women and their boyfriends for decades. LP is best experienced in the flesh, ’90s style, to comprehend what makes this distinguished talent so valuable.