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Christine and the Queens played a triumphant, packed show at Webster Hall (pics, review)

photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher

Christine and the Queens

“I cannot believe what’s happening right now,” said Héloïse Letissier, the force behind France’s Christine and the Queens, after playing the first song of their set to a sold-out crowd at NYC’s Webster Hall last night (11/11). The place was clearly loving her, cheering several times during that one song alone, when Letissier hit the high notes, when one of her dancers did a particularly impressive move, or when Letissier did herself. She played a few smaller NYC shows since making her debut here in April, and had just opened for Marina and the Diamonds across two nights at Terminal 5 this week, but this was by far her biggest headlining gig in the city yet. She’s clearly a huge hit here already, especially with the French community (that’s not an assumption: Letissier asked “who here is French?” and about 80% of the room screamed).

Christine and the Queens make pop music, but they certainly toy around with the boundaries of the genre. She shouted out a few fierce females in pop music (her words) during the set, namedropping Beyonce, Rihanna, and Grimes, which should tell you something. She has dancers on stage, but more in the way that Grimes does than a true mainstream pop star. There’s just two, and they’re working more with abstract modern dance than say, Darrin’s Dance Grooves. She’s also always referencing various types of music during her set. She took the line “She’s a man now, and there’s nothing we can do to change her mind” from “iT” and transitioned into “Cause I’m a man, woman, don’t always think before I do” from Tame Impala’s “Cause I’m A Man.” She played her song “Paradis Perdus,” which is a cover/mashup of French singer Christophe’s 1973 song of the same name and Kanye West’s “Heartless.” That was only one of two times Kanye came up, as later in the set she played a bit of “I’m In It” over the PA. And she played “No Harm Is Done,” which samples the melody of Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know?”. (She did not cover “Pump Up the Jam,” which she’s done before.)

Christine and the Queens

That last one features a guest verse from Philly rapper Tunji Ige, and he was projected onto the screen behind her mouthing along as his verse played. They did the same thing for Perfume Genius for his verse in “Jonathan.” She’s not just playing with genre, but she’s playing with gender too. She’s talked before about gender fluidity, and that was very clearly on display last night. Her performance went back and forth between appearing stereotypically feminine and stereotypically masculine. The same could be said of her two male dancers.

Their live show is clearly incredibly professional already, between the choreography, the visuals, the sound, everything. Her only backing band is one guy on samplers/keyboards and another on guitar/bass/backup vocals. I usually complain about bands who don’t have drummers, but here I didn’t notice it at all.

The show opened with a DJ set from INSTRUM. Pictures continue below…

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