Kailee Morgue hesitates, eventually finds her groove at Outside Lands

Ryan Tuozzolo/Staff
Ryan Tuozzolo / Staff

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As Kailee Morgue stepped onto the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands, the 20-year-old pop singer looked nervous. Clad in a white crop top and transparent red pants, Morgue smiled hesitantly at the hundreds gathered before her before diving into her opening track, “Do You Feel This Way.” Despite the catchy, upbeat mood of the piece, Morgue appeared only partially engaged with the tune, her cautious swaying and pacing across the stage detracting energy from the selection.

Considering the suddenness of her recent ascent into the public eye, Morgue’s nerves made sense. After all, Outside Lands was her first festival, as she told viewers. Back in January 2017, Morgue probably couldn’t have imagined that she would soon perform at one of the Bay Area’s most prominent music festivals.

It was early last year that the then-19-year-old uploaded to Twitter a clip of herself singing a self-written pop song, “Medusa,” from her bedroom in Phoenix, Arizona. The clip quickly garnered thousands of retweets. Five months later, Morgue signed a record deal with Republic Records. That summer, she moved to Los Angeles to more seriously pursue a career in music.

The young singer has experienced a lot of changes since first posting the video — according to Spotify, Morgue’s channel now receives more than 880,000 monthly listeners, and “Medusa” currently has nearly 3.5 million plays. These days, Morgue is performing live, with Outside Lands only one stop on a longer tour.

Despite her lackluster opening, Morgue warmed up about midway through her appearance as she began to sing her more exciting material. As she treated her viewers to an unreleased track, “Sirens,” Morgue seemed to loosen up, her movement more fluid and in tune with the music. This live sneak peek into her future releases built a sense of intimacy with her audience, akin to the sharing of a secret.

By the time she reached her most popular tracks, Morgue was in her zone. “Fuck you,” she sang during “F**k U,” throwing up her middle finger and settling into the badass persona of her online presence, “and leave me alone.”

All in all, the performance was a rather unremarkable one from the young pop singer. Nonetheless, audience members indubitably enjoyed the act, swaying along themselves even when Morgue didn’t seem fully engaged. And in the moments when she did find her groove, one could see the potential for future energized performances led by a musician more confident in her own talent.

Ryan Tuozzolo covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @_rtuo.