Show Recap: Chappell Roan - Local Wolves


The Midwest Princess Tour — Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR — November 9, 2023

Chappell Roan’s impending stardom could be felt blocks away from Portland’s Wonder Ballroom. The density of “pink cowgirls,” the outfit theme for the evening in tandem to Roan’s hit “Pink Pony Club,” grew larger and larger when nearing the venue. With the Portland date having sold out months prior, much like many others on the tour, it was clear that everyone couldn’t wait for the anticipation to finally boil over into the celebratory, queer catharsis Roan has so aptly and intentfully crafted. 

In tribute to queer communities and their significance to her artistic process, Roan has continued her tradition of openers on her tour being drag queens local to each show date. Portland had the treat of Oregon queens Vegas Flights, Morena, and drag environmentalist Pattie Gonia. The queens put ample energy into warming up the crowd in their respective choreographed sets before finally coming together to crown an attendee “Miss Portland” on stage before Roan’s set.

While the crowd certainly had its fun with the queens, something new was unleashed by the time Roan entered the stage with an explosive opening, starting with the infectious tracks “Femininomenon,” “Red Wine Supernova,” and “After Midnight.” In the small ballroom, she played with a massive stamina, vocal ability and exuberance fit for an amphitheater. Everyone in attendance understood the assignment— a Chappell Roan show is the place to be who you are and no less— and in a beautiful crescendo they danced like they were born to, screamed along to the songs from top to bottom of the set, and held one another close. When the time for an encore came around the crowd wasted no time in expressing their joy for Roan, skipping straight to thunderous stomping on the hard ballroom floor. 

While many artists have dedicated fans, not every artist can succeed in curating a show such as Roan’s where fans didn’t simply show up for her concert, but rather a collective experience in a community. The palpable energy of the night was inescapable and it was clear that Roan herself was no different than anyone in the audience in their reason for being there: to cherish and champion their boisterous pride. On the surface, a Chappell Roan show is a fun, glittery and flamboyant pop show; in its heart, it is an unshakable safe haven for liberated joy. 

Words & Photography: Heather Zalabak

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