LP puts The Wiltern crowd deep into their emotions

New York singer-songwriter Lauren Pergolizzi — better known by her stage name LP — is kind of a big deal and though I was aware she was so popular, I didn’t realize just how much so until this past weekend when I experienced her live for the first time.

The show at the historic Wiltern was completely sold out and holy hell were her fans excited for her stop on the Heart to Mouth tour in LA!  In fact saying they were just excited would be an understatement.  The die-hard fans, who happened to be mostly female, (though to my surprise the age range was all over the place, and yes there were males in attendance too-including Mr. Adam Lambert!) were losing their shit big time over the androgynous singer.

Her genderless look is not quite the norm we usually see in pop stars but I think that’s part of what’s so great about her. LP breaks down the norms, she is different and owns it in ways we all wish we could.  I’ve heard people who are unfamiliar with her question, is that a boy or a girl?  And at the end of the day, does it matter?  Gender doesn’t make talent nor take away from it.  And though LP does identify as female, I think it’s wonderful for an emerging artist to represent so many different things for their fans.  Gay, androgynous, queer, female, human.  LP encompasses it all and makes you want to root for her:  the underdog.  In a world of shallow Instagram models and mass produced pop stars, LP manages to come out on top so to that I say fuck yeah!

Being actively involved in the LGBT community myself, I think it’s so important to support queer artists.  Especially for the youth.  I only wish I had more artists like LP to listen to and look up to when I was growing up.  Now more than ever, is the perfect time for the community to have more visible role models and LP may just be the heartbroken hero we’ve been waiting for.  She genuinely connects with her fans through her style and heartfelt lyrics.

LP took the stage, rocking a leopard print shirt, a gold jacket, and a headband that pushed back her signature curly locks just enough so we could see her eyes, and instantly had her adorning fans shrieking.  She got the night started off with the haunting tune “Dreamcatcher” from her latest release Heart to Mouth. When I first heard LP, I remember thinking she sounded a lot like Gwen Stefani (who happens to be one of my favorite artists) and though I could still hear the similarity, this song had more of a Stevie Nicks (another favorite of mine) style to it.  Next LP grabbed her ukulele for the fun track “When We’re High,” a song that recalls listening to records and getting stoned with an ex girlfriend.  Ah isn’t it always nice to recount the good times with an ex instead of focusing on the bad?  The song set the crowd on a high of their own, singing and dancing right along.  Other jams that set the fans wild include, “Someday,” “No Witness,” and “Shaken.”

Of course, this being an LP show, the upbeat fun jams would soon be balanced out with songs that make you wanna crawl in bed and cry, such as the heartbreaking ballad, “Recovery.”

So personal side note tangent: right before LP had started her set, I had literally ran right into the ex of all exes of mine, (in fact to simply call this person an ex doesn’t do the relationship justice) and the encounter was totally unexpected, so needless to say the lyrics of this heartbreaking song were definitely speaking to my soul.  It’s crazy how some songs can emote so much of what you’re feeling, yet it’s someone else’s experience.   I guess that’s the beauty of music, we find our own voice in it.  I’m often that person who will listen to a song and hear it not only in my personal narrative, but also the person I’m thinking of’s narrative.  And during this song in particular, I found myself not only trying to hold back tears, but also wondering what that person was feeling/thinking in this moment, as we were both in the crowd, sharing the same experience but completely apart.  The lyrics sing “It may be over but not tonight, I may be older but I still cry, I can’t stop sleeping in your clothes, you can’t stop calling on the phone…” Damn LP, girl had me seeing flashbacks in a movie-style montage.

I think the great thing about heartbreak songs is that, as sad as they may be, they give you comfort to know you are not alone in having felt lost and broken.  And LP gives us hope that the heartbreak doesn’t last forever- LP is currently engaged to rising indie rock star Lauren Ruth Ward and gave her a shout out during the set.  And many of the songs on the new album reflect that LP is in a much better place.  So yes, my fellow heartbroken souls, there is hope…and to anyone who may have seen me at the show…I wasn’t crying, YOU were crying!

The set consisted of just about an equal amount of songs from Heart to Mouth mixed with songs from her previous album Lost on You.  Many of LP’s songs have a familiar sound to them and even if you don’t know them by heart, they are easy to pick up on and most everyone was singing along to the choruses.

She also included a fun cover of The Rolling Stones song “Paint It Black” which seemed a fitting cover, considering LP does have a Jagger like swagger to her.  The opening whistles of “Other People” really got the crowd worked up into a frenzy.  LP has a powerful voice and a great range that demands attention but this intriguing whistling instrument of hers seemed to be wowing the crowd more than anything.  When I said earlier that the crowd lost their shit for her, this was a moment where that statement could not have rung truer.

Some other standout performances of the night were the light hearted, summery themed, “Girls Gone Wild,” and the contrasting, dark and ominous, “Muddy Waters. ”  “Strange” was a song that showcased just how talented of a singer LP is, as the chorus had her climbing to some pretty high scales.  She also proved to be a damn good harmonica player in this song.  So much talent in this one petite woman I tell ya!

The night came to an end with the most anticipated song of the night, the dramatic “Lost On You.”  The overjoyed audience sang along. It was the perfect ending to a magical night and after seeing LP live, I’m getting what the buzz is all about.

Words and photos by Betsy Martinez