By Devon Spungin
Photos by Rachel Kupfer
28 Sep, 2019
A crewman unveils a translucent drum set with Clairo’s name illuminated on its base, and the pit roars. This reaction seems only natural to me; this sold-out show does mark the first night of her Immunity North American Tour. However, if you were to present this visual to nineteen-year-old Claire Cottrill just two years ago, she likely would have laughed at its inconceivability.
Clairo’s journey to fame was unlike most aspiring musicians who struggle for years to catch the attention of a record label. Hers was in fact not much of a journey at all, as it happened with a single click on her computer. This pivotal click on YouTube published her intentionally effortless music video to “Pretty Girl,” a catchy tune that she wrote and recorded herself. The video’s emphasis on Claire’s just-getting-out-of-bed natural self, juxtaposed with the song’s theme of an expectation to be a perfect feminine girlfriend, caught the attention of millions — and soon the attention of major record labels (She decided on FADER Label — the same as bands such as Neon Indian and Matt and Kim). It was certainly her relatableness that shook the world of bedroom pop and touched the souls of countless self-conscious teens.
In early August of 2019, Clairo released her first album entitled Immunity — an ode to the inner struggles that she had not yet communicated lyrically. She sings about her bisexuality, which she recently publicized over Twitter, and her battle with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis — the autoimmune disorder that serves as the inspiration for her album title.
The album’s authenticity called for an equally authentic show at Chicago’s Metro on Saturday night. Clairo emerged — or more characteristically, floated — onto the stage with dyed red hair to match the synthesis of varying colors behind her: orange drums, light blue visuals, pink lights. The aura was ethereal; She stood illuminated in front of soft, pastel clouds and sang with an equally soothing, entrancing voice.
Clairo’s limited range of motion due to her disorder encouraged the crowd to look less and listen more — a phenomenon that is quite uncommon in today’s visual-centric society. Unfortunately, the lack of movement on stage and the melodic commonalities between many of her songs were not sufficient in keeping the crowd’s full attention; mid-show the people around me were pretty much still — some were even raising their voices to hold conversations. Clairo’s radio hits did not disappoint, however, as the intro chords to “Flaming Hot Cheetos,” “Pretty Girl,” and “Bags” instantaneously dragged the crowd out of the slumps.
A truly special moment arose during the encore, as the legendary “Pretty Girl” video played behind Clairo as she sang her most well-known song. Nostalgia permeated through the air, as the crowd was reminded of a moment when young Claire had not even anticipated many viewers, let alone hundreds of devoted fans watching together in an esteemed Chicago venue.
Only two years into her music career, Clairo is already challenging norms and throwing convention out the window. Her authenticity is electrifying and will continue to unearth in her performances, as her stage confidence flourishes over the course of this tour. I am so excited to see what Clairo has in store for the future, as she stays true to the girl in the baggy sweatshirt that we all fell in love with on YouTube.