Katy Perry with Robyn At the Nokia Theatre Last Night
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly

Katy Perry with Robyn At the Nokia Theatre Last Night

Katy Perry with Robyn

August 7, 2011
Nokia Theatre

When you're at a concert there are events that occur, usually in some sequence, that make you hyper-aware of where you are.

When the teenybopper behind you starts shrieking/crying/furiously texting because she's just spotted Perez Hilton next to you at Will Call--well, that's when you know you're in Los Angeles.

And when--only moments after Robyn has finished her set with a entrancingly breathy "Thank you, Los Angeles"--the crowd converges on one point and you hear excited titterings of "Is that Russell Brand?" and, as he passes and takes his spot less than 10 feet from you, you realize that it's not just Brand, but Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (who I watched dance to Perry's cover of Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair", thank you very much)--well, that's when you realize you've entered the Twilight Zone.

Holy shit. Fortunately, if there's something both Katy Perry and Robyn know well, it's how to keep you watching them with unwavering focus (despite whatever A-listers may be awkwardly jigging in front of you). 
Katy Perry with Robyn At the Nokia Theatre Last Night
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly

For her part, Robyn, clad in a skin-tight body suit with black and blue embellishments that looked almost skeletal at some angles, energetically whipped around the stage as strobe lights broke up her wild movements. The stage had been outfitted rather minimally for her set, leaving her to work with some lights that did little to mask how shockingly bubblegum pink the curtain behind her was (this is, as they say, Perry's party). The entire Nokia Theatre reflected the theme-- pink lights illuminated the merchandise (where candy-clad tots and teens could purchase glowing cotton candy for $10 in addition to a variety of Perry tees). Fans of all ages donned blue wigs for the event and mulled about, chattering excitedly about the pink clouds, candy staircase, and other glimpses of Perry's candyland that was just visible behind the curtain.  The overall effect was akin to what a Willy Wonka oompa loompa reunion might resemble--but with far more pink. 

Despite the Victoria Secret commercial unfolding around her, Robyn didn't let the decor (or the fans' chatter) waver her commitment--she kept her energy high the entire evening, bounding around the stage, limbs flailing and legs contorting, even when she joined the fray as one of Perry's dancers (at least, I think it was her--or it was the most convincing Robyn-doppleganger in existence).

Most fans began to trickle in during the beginning of Robyn's set, and I got to my seat as the scattered electronic beat for "Cobrastyle" began to emanate from the stage (though I think the evening kicked off with "Fembots"). The lights dimmed and the stage was suddenly bathed in navy blue light, and Robyn's radio-smash "Dancing On My Own" filled the stadium, shaking fans out of their seats. Seemingly pained, Robyn mimicked the dance moves in her music video, emotionally pleading with the listener, begging for forgiveness in her soprano. "Yeah, I know it's stupid--I just gotta see it for myself," she gasped in her girly Swedish accent. It sounded remarkably like the radio version--but with far more force.

Interest began to wane after Robyn performed her hit, but the blonde bombshell, not to be deterred, kicked up the heat with "We Dance To the Beat" off Body Talk Pt. 2 during which she--seductively and slowly, while hopping around on stage--peeled and ate a banana (what?).

With interest reinvigorated (what will she eat next--an apple?), the floors (and fans) vibrated to "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do," where Robyn headbanged, "Indestructible" where Robyn fist-pumped and "Call Your Girlfriend" where Robyn rolled around on the floor. The lights flashed and the pop star, crazed and breathless, got to her feet and exited--sure to one day fill stadiums entirely of her own accord. Perry later mentioned while admiring Robyn's dance moves that it was her last night on California Dreams tour.

Katy Perry with Robyn At the Nokia Theatre Last Night
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly

The curtain rose and the audience was confronted with a stage decked out to resemble the "California Gurls" music video. For decor so sweet, the show itself was, surprisingly, not PG--Perry made coy references to underage drinking, pot, sex, partying, underage drinking, and more pot throughout the evening.  

After a short video intro (there was a video story Perry had crafted to connect her songs that she played throughout set and costume changes to keep the audience interested),  Perry appeared on stage, costumed in a glittering red dress speckled with twirling candy cane mints (costume count: 1. Bear with us folks, it's gonna be a long night). Appropriately, the fans went crazy, and the speakers responded by drowning out cheers with "Teenage Dream."

After the ditty, Perry, ever-lovably adorable, introduced her friend "Slot" (Robyn--or the Robyn doppleganger--dressed as a slot machine) and they both rained gold coins on the crowd.  As "Waking up in Vegas" began,  Perry demanded in her creamy alto that listeners, "shut up and put your money where your mouth is," jiggling and wiggling her bottom around stage as she chased after an elusive Slot.

After a quick disappearance and a reappearance in a frilly, sparkly blue number (costume count: 2), Perry performed cleverly-penned slow jam "Ur So Gay" ("I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf/while jacking off listening to Mozart") before begging two mimes (LOL) to let her have a bite of their brownie. 

After making a face she responded by giggling and goofily waving her hands in front of her face:"Well, that must be ... homemade!" 

The crowd screamed ("Yeah! Marijuana!" -- more lols) and Perry laughed, scurried off stage and reentered as a sexy green-and-purple peacock (costume count: 3). That lasted until the end of the "Peacock" number, when Perry swapped it out for a less revealing green dress with yellow and red feather boas to kick off a slow rendition of "Kissed a Girl" (costume count: 4).

There were numerous impressive numbers throughout the evening;  "E.T." erupted over the pitch-black stadium as stylized phosphorescent lyrics ran on the wall behind the diva, matching her (costume count: 5, Perry is in a black, bedazzled leotard); the heartbreaking "Thinking of You" where a pink, rose-clad Perry shed a glittery white robe and climbed atop a fluffy flying cloud (also pink) that gently carried her to the center of the stadium so that, in her own words "no ones gonna feel left out" (costume count: 6 and 7); "Hot N Cold," which was a testament to the thought the songstress had put into the sheer spectacle of it all, as she changed not once, but five times in the span of five minutes into assorted candy-themed garb (costume count: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12); and closing numbers "Firework" and "California Gurls" (costume count: 13, 14) which, in addition to displaying the Santa Barbara native's powerful vocals and range, featured actual fireworks (cue more shrieking), rose-colored heart-shaped confetti that fell from the stadium ceiling and a whip-cream cannon that a chipper and bubbly Perry unleashed on the crowd.

And that's when it hit me: Katy Perry-- even stripped of all the candy, smoke and mirrors--has perfected the art of performance. She kept up a dialogue with the audience throughout, saying, "there's one thing I know about LA--we like to party", "The West Coast is the best coast" and "How's my hometown doing tonight?" and "I'm still normal ... I'm not normal" (uh, whoops?), even bringing a horde of fans on stage to dance with her. "I don't know what kind of brownie that was ... but I feel magical," she sighed (someone get this girl an acting gig, stat).
As "Big Pimpin'" closed, the popstar accidentally turned to the audience and began to thank them before the music had finished. "Fuck!" she exclaimed, turning shamefaced back to her guitarist and apologizing. Then she turned back to the audience, and smilingly said, "I'm sure I'll get kicked out of Hollywood for that one." Somehow, we highly doubt it.

Final Costume Count: 14, maybe 15 when accounting for human error.

Critic's Bias: I know all the words to "California Gurls"

Crowd: Cute kids, teens and adults dressed in bright, skin-tight clothing and wigs.

Overheard in the Crowd:
"Oh my god, we're less than 10 feet away!"
"Is that Katie Holmes?"
"Excuse me, are you Perez Hilton?"
"We love you, Katy!"
"Wow that girl (Robyn) is crazy ..."
"Get a picture, mom! Get a picture!"

Random Notebook Dump: N/A, but now my notebook has gin (see my last review) and whip cream on it from Perry's cannon -- guess it's time to make a cocktail?

Robyn's Setlist
(Fembots, maybe another ditty I missed?)
Dancing On My Own
We Dance to the Beat
Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do
You Never Will Be Mine (with Rye Rye)
Call Your Girlfriend
Hang With Me

Katy Perry's Setlist
Teenage Dream
Hummingbird Heartbeat
Waking Up In Vegas
Ur So Gay
I Kissed A Girl
Circle the Drain
Who am I living For
Not Like the Movies
S&M Only Girl In the World (Rihanna cover)
Big Pimpin' (Jay Z cover)
Friday (Rebecca Black cover)
Whip My Hair (Willow Smith cover)
Thinking of You
Hot N Cold
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
California Gurls


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