The Westward Festival returned for its second year this weekend, and one of the acts I was most looking forward to this year was internet sensation Poppy. Co-created by Titus Sinclair, the series of strange videos with the character Poppy (like her interviewing a plant) swept the internet before it turned into a full fledged music project, with Poppy.Computer released last year, and the upcoming Am I A Girl? coming out at the end of October.
It was an early show at the Vogue Theatre, and with a bare, all-black stage, Poppy came out with an ornate dress and two backup dancers, starting with a newer single “In A Minute”, before going into “My Style”. On the surface, it seems like your run-of-the-mill pop music, but when she sings “Bath salts, start a cult, I'm so adult / That's my style” and a chorus that includes the line “Poppy will break your neck” you know maybe there’s something a bit more sinister behind it. “Bleach Blonde Baby”, which is about being born absolutely “perfect”, and her upcoming single “Fashion After All” both seem as subversive as they are catchy.
Or, maybe I’m just looking too deep into a well-crafted YouTube character which consists of weird videos and fun & earworm-y (if strange) pop music, with songs like the frantic “My Microphone” which had both Poppy and her backup dancers searching the stage and the audience for her microphone (a few people in the front even had fake mics they passed up front). Throughout the whole set, Poppy and both of the dancers were going back and forth on stage, hardly stopping or pausing even for a moment.
Every few songs (during costume changes) they played some of her bizarre non-music videos, like the “advertisement” for Doritos and Monster Energy, or Poppy conversing with her bunny ring about happiness. Not to mention all her crowd banter was ‘in character’, with her voice being a little more unnerving than I expected when hearing it live.
After one last video, she returned to the stage for the final song, the synth-driven “I’m Poppy”, with the 45 minute set going by in a flash, and the crowd cheering for an encore (which, as the house music came up and the stage techs started clearing the stage, was clearly not in the cards).
I did think maybe there would be more of a ‘stage show’ aside from the two dancers and large screen, but it’s also possibly that it just wasn’t feasible due to the time constraints of being an early show with a curfew, with another show playing later that night for the Westward Festival. But aside from that, it was just about exactly what I wanted it to be; ridiculously catchy pop music with a weird and even somewhat unsettling undertone.
In A Minute
Time Is Up
Fashion After All
Bleach Blonde Baby