Born and raised a stone’s throw across the bay in Oakland, mxmtoon arrived on stage at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on May 17 — a hometown show fulfilling a hometown dream.
With her family tucked away in the balcony above, mxmtoon recalled watching indie singer Rex Orange County from the opposite side of the stage she now graced. A dream inspired and effectively realized, mxmtoon slid onstage with the ease and comfort of someone at home in body (literally) and in spirit — the latter being a solidifying staple of her art and artistry.
Effortlessly balancing the old and the new, the singer’s set spanned her entire discography of bedroom-pop anthems and heartaches. Six days before the release of her sophomore studio album rising, mxmtoon also flashed hints of the coming-of-age record by playing the sunny reveries found in “learn to love you” and “florida.”
A time warp back to the earlier parts of this century and the likes of Avril Lavigne, alt-indie opener chloe moriondo giddily welcomed the night silhouetted by a sundry of streaking strobes colored white and lilac. Sporting a bleached Betty Boop bob, moriondo arrived clad in ripped-jean shorts and a fishnet long-sleeve crop top. She crooned in her brassy acoustic tenor through the headbanging “Rly Don’t Care” and the angsty tracks “I Eat Boys” and “GIRL ON TV.”
A cover of The Cranberries’ wistful ballad “Linger” rounded out moriondo’s half-hour set. The singer’s rendition oozed like whiskey — glazed in nostalgia and spiked with punk twang. Much like her main-act counterpart, moriondo’s performance and music are a display of aging innocence without the culpable immaturity.
In a summery-white mesh gown ornamented with sequined butterflies, mxmtoon debuted under a shower of blue and rose lights, briskly skating alongside new and old comforts. Recently released, the opening singles “frown” and “sad disco” previewed the singer’s latest feel-good tide of tracks and larger departure from stripped-down solo acts into fuller, synth-upbeat bop ensembles.
Siloed in the softness of yellow spotlight, mxmtoon’s “unspoken words” resonated in the authentic, vulnerable storytelling which has long anchored and sailed the singer’s career. Through an evergreen lens of personal growth and self-compassion, mxmtoon’s music poignantly waxes poetic narratives of adolescence and smoothly bridges themes of identity, sexuality and gender.
“Home is where the queers are,” the singer wholesomely quipped to shoulder-swaying fans before her sweet, unyielding mantra from “no faker.”
Mxmtoon retreated further home later in the night. Joking about her reputation as the “emo ukulele girl,” the artist laughingly doubled down, declaring, “Then emo I shall.” In an intimate trio of plucked throwbacks including “feelings are fatal” and “i feel like chet,” mxmtoon put the night on hold for a perfectly-simple, strummed reprieve.
Mxmtoon propelled transcendentally upward into the final leg of her set. Ripe under soft pastel neons, her songs “coming of age” and “prom dress” signed off with the wonders and whims of navigating and tampering out prescriptive childhood invincibility.
Online and in concert, mxmtoon trades bits of life, banter and “slays” with her fans, slipping into conversation and dry sarcasm with an obvious and earned comfort. Mxmtoon mirrors her fanbase, and her fanbase mirrors her — making her concerts better seen as reunions between old friends.
Wholesome and heartening even for those less well-versed, mxmtoon is easy to like and easier to love. “You all inspire me to be as true as I can to myself, every single day,” she lauded the crowd at one point in the show.
From stage enter to stage exit, mxmtoon lives in the limelight with miles of growth in the rearview and miles to come. What’s her secret? She lives a career and life the only way she knows how — by being unabashedly herself.