Allie X is like Wednesday Addams if she were based in Los Angeles and could sing in Mariah Carey’s falsetto. Her discography radiates the kind of dark stylization of the Charles Addams comic strip character. Lyrically and sonically, Allie X’s music forcefully rejects every ounce of levity possible — “Steal my blood and steal my heart / Whatever it takes to get you off / I’m your bitch, you’re my bitch.”
This impenetrably inky musical personality translated seamlessly to Allie X’s performance on Tuesday night at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.
Allie X clambered onstage in a black schoolgirl minidress and shimmery, purple leggings that wrapped around the bottoms of her tall translucent heels — her long hair half-pulled back in a topknot, a red-lip-sticked smirk settled across her face. She reached up often to push her reflective circular sunglasses up the bridge of her nose, completing her image of moody unattainability.
Allie X’s movements around the stage furthered her brand even more. She danced as if possessed by a fickle demon — at times despondent, at times arm-flailingly aggressive. She strutted along the edge of the small stage, stepping just out of reach of the sea of straining arms and screams of overwhelming adoration. She crossed her fingers as she shot her arms up in the air and made X’s with her forearms — her brand popping up in the sporadic dance moves.
Being just out of reach of the crowded floor’s turmoil — just cool enough to float above it — was a common theme for Allie X, but not an ironclad one. In a moment of girlish humor, she giggled into the mic that her pants were falling down, to the momentary bewilderment of the audience who then clapped her on as she paused to make her wardrobe adjustments.
But most of the time, Allie X stuck to being too cool to converse, not so much as taking a breath between the songs on her setlist. She sang through the heavy swirling synths, the crashing drum kit and the electric guitar line, never letting her vocals sink to inaudibility, only letting them blend with or soar above the background instrumentals.
The individual songs she played didn’t feel so important — each was wildly popular, carrying her vocal and lyrical power to every corner of the dancing audience. But her new single from CollXtion II, “Paper Love,” was a standout nonetheless, taking the often despondent themes in her lyrics to a new low but the often low-pitched musical lines to a new high.
The whistled melody was buoyant above the syncopated thrumming of the electric guitar, fading into her falsetto as she sang “I believe, I believe in the things you do / And I wanna believe you believe that too.” Her pre-chorus takes a darker turn: “I know you were thinking / Bad things when you kissed me, oh / Your tongue told me every lie.” It’s a song about the tragedy of falling in love with someone only to later realize all the love they gave you was fake — “Come on watch my heart turn to pulp / Like paper / Paper Love.”
Allie X ended the night with “Misbelieving,” an older single from 2016. She sang it, holding the most still she had all night after speaking her most sincere words to the crowd — she expressed her gratitude at the doubled size of the crowd since her last performance there, and noted the reappearing faces with a small smile.
No matter how cool she plays it, Allie X is a niche artist, and the omnipresent gratitude that niche artists feel for their emphatic fans seeps out inevitably one way or the other, as it did for Allie X at the end of her set. But it’s okay to take a breath from the stage show and the persona — everybody can appreciate a little flash of something joyful in between the monochrome black Addams Family aura, no matter how well that suits her.
Contact Olivia Jerram at [email protected].