Katy Perry, Robyn Toyota Center July 29, 2011
See more teenage dream photos in our slideshow.
As the current crop of glittery female pop-stars goes, Katy Perry is not as tragic as Britney Spears, less serious and arty than Lady Gaga, not as hedonistic as Ke$ha, and a sight more escapist than all of them put together, floating her pop on a frothy layer of whipped cream, peppermints, and incensed section of the population who thinks she's one of the biggest purveyors of slutwave.
Katy Perry is Pee Wee Herman, if Pee Wee Herman was built like the chicks on the sides of World War II bombers, or more accurately, like the chicks that Herman was tugging it to back in 1990 at that adult theater in Florida. That's a cute way of saying that a good portion of her audience is slobbering folks who like a good figure.
Friday night's show wasn't the most rousing or brainy pop show of the year, but it was the most endearing, because aside from all of the rest of the girls, her brand of bubble-pop electro doesn't come with a heavy-handed assault of guilt and societal boundary-pushing. It's just as filling as the neon-lit cotton candy that was being sold all over Toyota Center, but at least it's not masquerading as nourishment.
Opener Robyn seemed to go over the heads of the assembled who were there for Perry proper, and her indie-friendly dance-rock came with her own brand of theatrics and B-girl posing, which were crazy beloved at her Warehouse Live set a few months back. Having Robyn open for Perry seems like a mismatch, but we're sure a few moms and big sisters were converted by the end of her set.
Following our food slant of the evening, Robyn opening was like eating a vegan Caesar salad with a glass of mineral water as your appetizer, before having a triple banana split and a martini as the main course, or something.
Perry's set started with Wonka-ish short film about a cleavy Perry (as if it could be any other way) working in a butcher shop for a troll of a man, falling in love with the hunky baker on down the street, and then having the sweetest and scariest of nightmares, which was continued through the evening during set changes.
What's with every girl-pop starlet having to have some sort of narrative lately? Nicki Minaj fights ninjas, Britney fought the paparazzi, Gaga fights fame, and Ke$ha (God love her) fights decency and unwanted pregnancy. At least Perry's stage show had a really cool set design, onstage and onscreen, with cotton candy clouds, candy canes, and mimes fighting over pot brownies. Perry is doing for sweets what the Insane Clown Posse is doing for Faygo.
The first half of the show came heavy-loaded with "Teenage Dream", "UR So Gay", "I Kissed A Girl", and the bawdy "Peacock," before going full arena-rock with the recent hit single "E.T." She slowed things down to a sluggish crawl with three straight chick-ballads delivered in her breathiest, most tampon-ready patois. We could Bart Simpson groaning somewhere in our consciousness.
Things warmed back up as Perry mounted a cotton-candy cloud and played "Thinking of You" solo on an acoustic guitar, hanging in mid-air over the back of the crowd. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" was especially LOL since it was in fact, Friday night. A whip-smart cover of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" went over boffo, before leading into "Firework," which came with well, you know.
Perry has one of the warmest and heartriest stage presences we have seen, at least when it comes to her peers. She's sweet, funny and kind, and commands the crowd like a TV kids' show host. The Herman reference isn't too far off. She could have a kids' show, but we're sure us older boys would like it more and for different reasons than the younger set.
She can't help that she was blessed, but her personality is much more infectious and bubbly than what's in her bra... or candy wrappers, as it were.
Personal Bias: Eat shit, Aftermath still jams her 2008 album, One of the Boys, on the reg. We once put a dollar in a male dancer's briefs at the Montrose Mining Company while "Hot N Cold" was playing, and we regret nothing.
The Crowd: A group of girls a few seats over from Aftermath smuggled in a decent-sized bottle of Old Crow into the show and finished it before Robyn even went on.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
What We Heard All Night After We Left The Show: "How were the boobs?"
Random Notebook Dump: We sincerely apologize if anyone thinks us reviewing a Katy Perry show is somehow a reflection of our perceived sexism or misogyny. We are not either of those things, simply relaying the play-by-play of a big dumb pop show. We were just as sleazy at the Scissor Sisters show, if that helps at all. That being said, Perry's boobs were pretty cool.