Chicago’s queer community was out in full force at the House of Blues on Nov. 4 to be gladly transported into the realm of “Club Valentine” by none other than electro-pop sensation Slayyyter. Throughout the course of 22 songs, she took her audience on a euphoric and cathartic ride with just the right amount of glitz, glamor and grit.
“Club Valentine” is an ‘80s-inspired new wave dream, taking place in a model of a retro luxury apartment similar to the one found on the cover of her latest album “STARFUCKER,” which chronicles Slayyyter’s move to Los Angeles and the city’s stark contrasts to her Midwestern upbringing.
The evening kicked off with an energetic opening performance by BAYLI complete with her own R&B-pop fusion stylings and a cover of Paramore’s “The Only Exception.”
As the clock struck 9 p.m., the back of the stage set was illuminated by a projection of a one minute countdown, which fittingly led into the opening chords of “Out of Time.” Strutting into place outfitted in a shoulder-padded white suit jacket and matching white pumps, Slayyyter delivered a powerful punch of melodrama that quickly turned things from 0 to 100.
Album standout “Dramatic” featured an extended intro with a deliciously prickly, new wave-inspired synth that buzzed throughout the venue. The glamor of the performance was kicked up even further as Slayyyter lit a cigarette and sipped a martini (with two olives, of course). The performance exuded an Old Hollywood mystique that was further complimented by her necklace adorned with a deep red anthurium flower, similar to the one worn on her album cover.
This intersection of aesthetics and styles is part of Slayyyter’s unique edge. For an artist to simultaneously reference the golden age of Hollywood, ‘80s metropolitan futurism and Los Angeles’ gritty early aughts is no easy feat. Yet all of these aesthetics were conveyed throughout the evening without ever coming across as disjointed or nonsensical.
Throughout the night, outfit changes were plentiful and each acted as a representation of the songs being performed. The opening white suit jacket was traded for a tattered burgundy minidress that was somewhat reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s infamous “meat dress.” Slayyyter later emerged onstage in a dominatrix-inspired black leotard with a chain-encrusted belt to perform a slew of her gritty club anthems including an unreleased song titled “James Dean” off of a forthcoming deluxe version of “STARFUCKER,” which she said she’s been “working really hard on.” For the encore, she sported a glitzy pink bodysuit dripping in rhinestones and accessorized with a large white feather fan straight out of Sin City.
But even in the midst of the multiple quick changes, the audience was never left with a bare stage or stagnant speakers. An array of projections were displayed on the large screen backdropping the stage set during the transitions between outfits, and throughout the night. Even while Slayyyter took a pause to sip her martini or got into place for her next number, the audience was never left visually or sonically unfed.
A soundbite from Ti West’s 2022 film “Pearl” even rang out before “I Love Hollywood!” Mia Goth’s disembodied voice cried out “Nooo I’m a star!” before Slayyyter taunted “show me how you party like Hollywood!” as she launched into her confession of love for tinseltown.
“I love coming to Chicago, you guys are my Midwest sisters,” Slayyyter told her audience toward the end of the show. The St. Louis export shared her love for the Windy City multiple times throughout the night, even revealing that the cover for “STARFUCKER” was shot here.
For an artist pigeonholed as “hyperpop” far too often, Slayyyter’s prominence as a pop vocalist was more evident than ever. Countless vocal riffs and belts spiced up her already stunning performances. Not only was she more than willing to elevate her material further with these added vocal embellishments, but did so flawlessly — a feat many performers attempt but few can pull off.
Amidst all of the high-energy partying she led her audience through, Slayyyter made sure to profusely thank her crowd for supporting her journey as an artist and for attending the concert. “This has been one of the best shows of the tour,” she said. “All my life I’ve dreamed of getting to do this … I can’t thank you guys enough.”
For the predominantly queer crowd, the show delivered an hour and a half of non-stop partying that offered a kind of musical catharsis for anyone who wished to escape through booming pop splendor. In the land of “Club Valentine,” nirvana is obtained through the electro-pop stylings of one of music’s most exciting rising stars.