LP’s energy is affecting, infectious at Oakland’s Fox Theater

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A line wrapped around Oakland’s Fox Theater on Sunday as audience members gathered for LP’s show. The diversity in age among those present made it clear how pervasive LP’s music has become for so many. This, supplemented by the fact that the concert was postponed from its original Jan. 26 date after LP fell ill on tour, made for an energized crowd excited for the opportunity to see LP do what she does best: perform.

It would be easy to write off the incredible performance LP delivered to the high stakes of an audience that had been disappointed by the show’s postponement months prior, but the hoards of folks gathered that night provided evidence to the contrary. People still turned up in large numbers for the concert, their excitement and animation hardly that of an audience that had been let down.

The show took place against a woodsy, forest-like backdrop. Initially, this choice seemed contrary to the gritty rock-star image LP maintains so much of the time, but with various lighting techniques, it proved to be as versatile and evolving as LP’s set was.

An ambient, bass-heavy start to the performance announced LP’s arrival, and, with the excitement of the audience, the room felt alive with anticipation. She opened the show with the frolicking guitar of “Dreamcatcher,” immediately solidifying why seeing her live is such a treat. Her vocal control was so precise it made it hard to discern whether or not she was singing live at all when she sang with her own background vocals.

The show’s set list was expertly cultivated, easily meandering through high-energy numbers and somber ballads, all the while maintaining a heat that kept the crowd on its feet, moving and engaged. From the operatic and haunting theatrics of “Dreamer” to the bopping melodies of “When I’m Over You” to the rugged rock ‘n’ roll of “No Witness,” moments of the show felt more suited to a stadium than the relatively intimate setting of the Fox.

In short, she’s just that good.

Even with a high familiarity with LP’s music, anyone would’ve been kept on their toes by the set list. At one point, LP began with the cat-and-mouse-like track “House on Fire,” and at the height of its energy, she descended into a “Paint It Black” cover that felt simultaneously intuitive and unexpected — like it was both the only way that could’ve gone and the last place you’d have expected it to go. And then, without hesitation, the show continued into “Other People” as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

It was increasingly clear that LP simply loves what she does. It was clear in her trademark whistling, clear in her playful audience interaction and clear in audience reception. The energy in the show never stuttered, not even when the band made a false start on “Tokyo Sunrise.” The concert was replete with a kind of mutual excitement and vitality that felt like perpetual motion. LP was like an ebullient pied piper, her music rippling through the crowd — burning, crashing and thriving.

More than a knockout performance, LP also delivered something else you can’t get simply listening to her records — herself. The brief but effective moments of audience interaction she engaged in were so intrinsically LP that it felt like getting to know her. Repeatedly over the course of the show, LP sang into audience members’ phones, led audience singalongs and was otherwise authentically and uniquely herself.

More than once, she thanked the audience for its flexibility, at one point saying, “I’m so sorry I missed that last show. I got sick as fuck. Thank you so much for moving your shit around.”

The only suitable response felt like raucous applause. Her dynamism and quirks and overall love for her craft made this performance something you wouldn’t want to miss.

Areyon Jolivette covers queer media. Contact her at [email protected].