On May 6 at 6:25 p.m., a chatty line of people wait outside in the rain for Washington D.C.’s hip music venue, The Anthem, to open its doors. In just over two hours, singer–songwriter Laura Pergolizzi, professionally known as LP, will take the stage. The line lurches forward and the first concertgoers enter the hall. As we complete a brief security check, attendees stumble past the merch stand and take their positions at the front of the pit.
At 8 p.m., opener Nick Leng literally jumps onto the stage, wearing wide–legged white pants and a blazer, and hypes up the audience. While he’s best known for his 2020 album LEMONS, featuring the songs “Lonely Shade of Blue” and “Walking Home to You,” the highlight of his short set is his performance of his new single, “Spirals.” Leng easily engages the crowd with his dynamic keyboard–playing, standing just off of center stage. His warm presence and quirky personality welcome us in, and although I didn’t come to The Anthem as a Nick Leng fan, I certainly left as one.
With the close of Leng’s set, the lights turn back on and we wait half an hour until they dim again. My once–spacious spot in the second row is now crowded as people fill in the gaps and push to get closer to the front. On the top of the hour, LP emerges in a purple button–down, purple blazer, black jeans, chunky black boots, and a wide–brimmed hat. The crowd goes wild.
Credited with writing The Backstreet Boys’ “Love Will Keep You Up All Night,'' Christina Aguilera’s “The Beautiful People,” and Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That),” LP is an expert, yet under–recognized, songwriter. Her most recent albums, Lost on You (2016), Heart to Mouth (2018), and Churches (2021), are jam–packed with beautiful songs inspired by a number of genres, from rock to country.
As a 41–year–old lesbian, LP is not your standard pop star, yet that's part of what makes her music so important. Frequently writing about love and heartbreak, LP provides a voice for queer women, especially older queer women, although her music definitely speaks to anyone who has experienced love regardless of age or sexual orientation. Today, there are so many love songs that are explicitly written about heterosexual romance, making LP’s music—which often avoids gendered words—a refreshing counterbalance to that norm and allows her to provide love songs that can be fully enjoyed by everyone.
Beyond her songwriting, LP’s voice is entirely unique. With an incredible range and phenomenal vocal control, she makes sounds I’ve quite honestly never heard before. At times, it sounds almost like a yodel. At other times, it’s reminiscent of a church choir. And sometimes, it’s still a rock star’s belt. While many of her songs are simply begging to be scream–sung in a car speeding down the highway with the windows down, there are also notes that can't be easily replicated by the average roadtripper. At the concert, audience members seemed to understand her talent and respect that, singing along when they can, but quieting down in time to appreciate LP’s unreachable notes.
She opened with the last song on her latest album, “Poem,” followed by the first song on the album, “When We Touch.” Although the audience was less familiar with these songs since they are newer, she was nevertheless welcomed by the deafening roar of the audience’s cheers.
I’ve been an LP fan for about three years after discovering her on Spotify, but seeing her on stage in person had me (and the rest of the audience) gushing. At each whistle, our hearts jumped—we held onto every note, drinking in the experience. However, what stood out most was her absolute command of the stage—I could have never imagined how incredible her stage presence would be prior to seeing her in–person. LP was electric onstage, making use of the full platform. From sitting on blocks by the edge to gesturing to audience members, she fully engaged with us. Leading the audience through her set, she mixed slow songs with more upbeat tunes, keeping her fans with her the entire time.
By the fourth song, fan–favorite “Girls Go Wild,” the audience is fully rocking along with the music. Between songs, girls scream “I love you LP!” as we enjoy the massive singalong. The party breaks up for a moment when a girl passes out in the middle of “The One That You Love.” Upon seeing it, LP immediately stops singing, calls the lights up, and brings over a medic. Once the situation ends, we are immediately brought back into the concert as LP asks, “Well should we just do that one again?”, and then takes it from the top. Throughout the entirety of the 19–song set list, the audience surged with LP’s energy radiating from the stage.
As LP leaves the stage at the end of the set, fans scream for an encore, hungry for more. Luckily for us, she reappears a minute later and performs a triple encore composed of "Recovery," "Into the Wild," and "Lost on You." The crowd sways in time to the music as we scream the lyrics into the night. The music is passionate, catchy, and everything we could hope for. We then leave the venue and enter the still–rainy but warm outdoors, humming LP songs in hopes of taking a piece of the concert with us.
LP redefines the look and sound of the modern pop star, breaking traditional molds and creating an act that is as beautiful as it is unique. Her music is dynamic and incorporates sounds that are often avoided in the modern pop world. LP is honestly probably the best musician you’ve never heard, and compared to her music, standard pop sounds boring. This summer, reject music norms, take a break from classic pop, and let LP write the soundtrack to your summer.