top of page

Gov Ball 2024, Day 3: Chappell Roan is a Midwest Princess Conquering the World

Photos by N. Bradley, Roger Ho

Following the clear patter in this series, I was running extremely late from Kevin Abstract's set on the adjacent GoPuff stage. While the stages were within eyeshot of each other, it was going to take a miracle to get within eyeshot of Chappell Roan on the main stage. Fans of all shapes and sizes had been trickling in and setting up camp in front of the Gov Ball NYC stage to secure the best possible angles to watch Roan, Reneé Rapp and SZA back to back to back. Needless to say, the crowd was already a bit touchy through the preceding sets, Elyanna and Malcolm Todd, but once the stage hands rolled out Roan's Big Apple set piece, the fatigue melted from their faces.

Roan started her set off hot with her now infamous "I Am The Midwest Princess" Intro, which lead seamlessly into "Femininomenon." There's a great reason that song's the intro track on The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, and why it was played first in the set. It's a ballad, yes, but more importantly, it's a gay nightclub wet dream. The beat is undeniably infectious, but just wallowing enough to raise the payoff of the beat drop exponentially, acting as the perfect fire starter to work up the rest of the set.

Now I'm sure you're more than well aware, dear reader, of Roan's choice of wardrobe for the afternoon. And while I am also aware of the still growing number of reposts and new angles of her outfit, I'm going to talk about it anyway. She was painted head to toe in a soft metallic green body paint, and dressed in State of Liberty drag, with an expertly and precisely placed hole cut in her costumes skirt, revealing her matching underwear and body painted behind. And while those were easily the most noticeable aspects of her costumery, they were far from the most notable. She also fashioned a green mirrored diadem to her flowing, curled verdigris wig, with leathered, buttoned straps attached to her midi skirt. Not only had she done a great justice to Lady Liberty, she had painted a marvelous, gladiatorial caricature of her, putting forward an air of power, poise and global defiance; perfectly encapsulating the radicalization and ideation of the young, modern American.

As she closed out “Naked in Manhattan, she strutted across the stage, calling out into the sea of pink and red clad fans. “Can you believe it?" she shouted as her drummer, Lucy Ritter, counted them into "Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl." "We’re at Gov ball!" Over the course of the weekend, there had been several massive stars pacing across the main stage, but none had received the same kind of reception as Roan. There were so many people stomping, jumping and dancing in that crowd that the ground beneath our feet felt as though it were bending beneath us. The stage visibly shook during each during each chorus, the decibels only increasing as Roan glided down the catwalk through the middle of the stage, each of her high kicks sending out shockwaves stronger than the last.

“Thank you,” she took a deep breath. “Today I am in drag of the biggest queen of all, but in case you have forgotten what’s etched on my toes; 'give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.'” Inscribed across the base of the Statue of Liberty are lines from Emma Lazarus's 1883 poem, "The New Colossus," written during a time of anti-immigrant sentiment and is considered a moving expression of early American ideals, making it all the more relevant to Roan's next words. As the crowd screeched and cheered, she pointed out into the swarm. "That means freedom and trans right, that means freedom and women's right, and it especially means freedom for all people that have been oppressed.” Just when you thought she couldn't be any more beloved, Roan raises the bar for artistry as activism, moving with solidarity and support for Palestinian artists, Elyanna and Saint Levant's politically charged sets from earlier in the day. “It especially means freedom for all people in occupied territories," she defiantly declared, turning to face her band. “Thank you, we’re going to do ‘HOT TO GO!’

After a brief dance lesson, Roan and her band launched into the most energetic song of the set. The entire crowd, stage hands and tech huts danced in sync without a single set of arms missing out on the opportunity to dance along, easily rivaling "YMCA" levels of audience involvement. As the song ended and the stage screens went dark, Roan darted across, announcing, “It’s hot in here, I’m going to go change my clothes.” To keep the audience preoccupied in the meantime, the stage screens lit up with an old interview of her's where she describes her music as 'piano pop.' The crowd chattered anxiously, already theorizing about how the star will reappear on stage. “If she comes out not green, I’m gonna pee,” I overheard one frantic fan promising their friends.

“I’d like to introduce my band!” Roan skipped back onto the stage to the sound of thunderous applause. She had completely flipped her wardrobe, now wearing a checkered, neon yellow taxi cab corset skirt, checkerboard gloves, and matching boots with '1-800-ROAN' stitched down the shin. "This is Lucy [Ritter] on drums , Devon [Eisenbarger] on guitar, and Allie [Futterer] on bass," she turned dramatically back to the crowd. “And this is ‘Casual’.”

Following a lighters-high worthy rendition of "Casual," Roan took the opportunity to offer an unsuspecting surprise. With the crowd still vibrating and tearing up from the previous song, Roan announced, “I thought New York would be perfect place to play this new song." The aptly titled, "Subway" or "The Subway," is soaring, twinkling guitar ballad about the high stakes and fast pace of city living, but more presently, city loving. Following Roan's latest romantic exploits, whether real or imagined, "Subway" tells the story of a budding love and relationship that came to a tragic and prematurely end, and the pain of watching of the person that meant so much to you and shared in so many happy moments blend back into the mass of suitors, once again becoming "just another girl on the subway."

Roan whispered the final reprise of her new song's live debut, staring down at her feet dramatically, then slowly raising her head to face the sea of cameras aimed up at her. “Where my girls at?” she demanded. "This song's for you." Without a second of rest or a moment to dawdle, Roan and her band counted into "Red Wine Supernova," followed closely by her new fan favorite single, "Good Luck, Babe!" She fell down to her climactically as the songs came to an end, purple sparkles and twinkling stars lit up the stage screen behind her as she raised herself back up. “I dedicate this song as a response to the White House who asked me to perform at Pride,” she testified. “We want liberty, justice and freedom; you do that, that’s when I’ll come.” The crowd bellowed as the band queued in “My Kink Is Karma,” screaming the lyrics in unison as pink and white balloons hovered within arms reach above the wailing assembly.

While not a political track by nature, framed within the context of Roan's declining to perform and the highly tensioned state of the world, in that moment, “My Kink Is Karma" blossomed into a Pride protest song aimed at the highest rungs of power in the US. It was an incredibly powerful moment, once again following up a string of polarizing and politically charged performances from earlier in the day, calling out the US' legislatures and world leaders for their complicity in the atrocities being committed against oppressed peoples across the world. As the song reached its final pre-chorus, Roan and Futterer knelt down at center stage, facing each other with their kneecaps scraping the others. Futterer lightly yet purposefully plucked at each note as Roan all but muttered the lyrics at her, as Ritter began quickly and quietly counting back into the chorus. Roan threw backwards to lay flat on her back, shrieking at the top of her lungs, “People may say I'm jealous, but my kink is fucking karma!”

Framed once more by the glittered stage screen, Roan stood unwaveringly at the front of the main stage. The time had finally come for her final song of the day, “Pink Pony Club.” She marched effortlessly between ever corner of the stage, waving a pink hearted bandana triumphantly over head. For their final song, Roan and her entire band shone brighter than the harsh sun overhead, with Futterer stepping up on backup vocals and Ritter putting every ounce of charge she had left in her into that disco ball kick drum, as Eisenbarger swam into solo that could have pierced through the stage speakers like a flash of lightning to a flag pole. Roan crawled and clawed across the stage floor, commanding the crowd, “Sing it!”

She and the band thrashed about the stage during the final seconds of their set, drums thumping, bass slapping, and guitar feeding back. Roan wiped her face and raised her arms, revealing that the green was finally starting to wear away as the beat and adrenaline began to catch up with her. She raised her mic one last time, howling into the crowd, “Thank you, Gov ball!”

Rob Lucchesi

Chappell Roan


Anna Myagkaya
Anna Myagkaya

The website is a remarkable platform dedicated to supporting organ donation and raising awareness about the importance of giving the gift of life. With its user-friendly interface and comprehensive information on how to become an organ donor, it serves as a valuable resource for individuals looking to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. Through empowering people to register as donors and providing insightful resources, is playing a crucial role in saving lives and promoting a culture of generosity and compassion. This initiative is truly commendable and deserves recognition for its noble mission.

bottom of page