DORIAN ELECTRA + KID TRASH – CHALK, BRIGHTON 10.4.22
Dorian Electra isn’t exactly what you’d call a subtle artist. The vocalist and performance artist has been making music with a comedic slant for over a decade, but it wasn’t until 2018 when they really started to pick up steam. Their early singles positioned them at the forefront of hyperpop; by expertly applying the then-emerging microgenre’s chaotic soundscapes and ironic tone to a character that both satirises and rejects the image of the macho rockstar, Dorian Electra’s courted a committed and defiant queer audience. With these fans out in their droves at Chalk, nothing was assumed, and no methods of self expression were off-limits.
From fans of an artist like Electra, who entered the stage in a flurry of neon green lasers sporting a cowboy hat and comically oversized sword, you’d expect nothing less. Despite not having much of a chance to tour their new material due to the pandemic, opening tracks ‘F The World’ and ‘M’Lady’ taken from their latest album ‘My Agenda’ never faltered in their bombast and confidence. The heavy basslines hyperpop often comes with rang through Chalk, reverberating through hundreds of pairs of platform boots and killer heels, as Electra led the crowd in the ‘Gentleman’ dance with the charisma of a consummate showperson.
The over-produced nature of hyperpop, taken from the autotune culture of late 2000s pop girlies, could easily lead you to question whether its performers are actually any good. Support act Kid Trash proved that confident stage presence isn’t an antidote to a set of pitchy vocals, leaving me wondering whether the genre just wasn’t made to be performed live. Luckily, though, it became clear that amidst the unhinged production and visuals in front of us was a performer with pipes. Quieter moments like the end of ‘1 Pill 2 Pill’, a cautionary track on how men’s mental health struggles can leave them vulnerable to radicalisation, stripped away the pageantry, showing an artist who truly believes what they’re singing.
Even seemingly over-the-top staging often gave way to unexpected sincerity. This was often down to the connection between Electra and their audience, a symbiotic relationship between marginalised people who need each other for community and representation. They’re clearly the type of artist who massively feeds off of a crowd’s intensity, and this led to the “god made me, and he loves me” refrain of ‘Adam & Steve’ being chanted between Electra and the crowd with matching passion. After this track, they left the stage, building anticipation with an interlude of swirling white light and angelic choral voices: The Church of Dorian Electra was in session.
The second part of Electra’s set – following a costume change, of course – blasted fan favourites from their debut album ‘Flamboyant’, its title alone a middle finger to anyone who expected demure respectability from the proudly outlandish singer. After another costume change, though, things really geared up a notch. The final act of the set can best be described as a feral queer rave. Dancers in knee-highs and military jackets waved pride flags with swirling hypnotic symbols on for the evening’s standout track ‘My Agenda’. It was a brilliant satire of homophobes’ panic about “the gay agenda” which, instead of promising to be sensible and just like the bigots, leant into the clichés with a playful reclamatory edge. Before long, a pit of vibrant LGBT+ fans were clamouring to be anointed with Electra’s water guns while insisting “my agenda may offend ya”. As is our right, y’know?
Dorian Electra setlist:
‘F The World’, ‘M’Lady’, ‘Gentleman’, ‘Live By The Sword’, ‘1 Pill 2 Pill’, ‘Edgelord’, ‘Give Great Thanks’, ‘Adam & Steve’, ‘Flamboyant’, ‘Daddy Like’, ‘Sorry Bro (I Love You)’, ‘Barbie Boy’, ‘Guyliner’, ‘Emasculate Me’, ‘Ram It Down’, ‘Iron Fist’, ‘Strapping Young Lads’, ‘My Agenda’, ‘Man 2 Man’, (encore) ‘Replay’, ‘Career Boy’
Find out more at www.dorianelectra.com