Jessie J Shuts It Down Day 2 of Outloud Raising Voices Music Festival
LOS ANGELES, CA- Per their website, OUTLOUD Raising Voices Music Festival is “a 3-Day, award-winning LGBTQ+ Music Festival, profiling and celebrating Queer artistry as a kick-off concert to PRIDE Month. This high-energy concert features show-stopping performances from the Raising Voices Main Stage, engaging artist interviews in the OUTLOUD Twitch Lounge, and an exciting outdoor Dance Arena.”
The top billing on the second day of OUTLOUD featured performances by amazingly soulful Jessie J. and a DJ set by Aluna George’s Aluna. Derrick and Summer covered as many performances as they could!
The ballroom scene is an integral and highly influential part of the LGBTQIA+ community and can be seen in nearly every facet of queer culture. Originating in New York as a safe space for queer POC, ballroom has recently infiltrated the mainstream media via shows like Pose, Legendary, and My House and is finally being recognized as a long-running inspiration for popular culture. The BBE group hosted a mini ball on the Unity stage and offered 3 prizes of $500 for winners of the categories: runway, sex siren, and performance. With hosts like Brandon Anthony 007, Legendary Jamari Marc Jacobs, and Torie Balmain, the ball immediately drew a large crowd.
Before officially starting the competition, legendary and iconic faces in ballroom were called to the runway. Many members of the lauded houses competed, including Marc Jacobs, Balmain, and Basquiat. Despite the hot sun beating down over the stage, the competition remained fierce. I’m sure that this may have been several bystanders’ first introduction to ballroom and there wasn’t a moment that a mouth wasn’t agape or a gasp couldn’t be heard. And who can really blame them when you’re watching two people do endless twirls, drops, and acrobatic feats. Hands down, the mini ball was one of the best features of the festival weekend.
The first act we able to catch on the main stage was the Los Angeles, via San Jose, based artist Kaleena Zanders. This artist has one hell of a powerful voice and itndefinitely lends itself to the club/house jams made up most of her set.
The song that really showcased her vocal chops, however, was the one track that was less club and more gospel: her latest uplifting single “We’ll Stand Together”. The message of the song is in its title, and it was delivered with a passion that really got the crowd feeling some kind of way. Her full, alto voice reonsated through the afternoon sky, and even without the catch clubs instrumentals, I would have remember her voice because it was just that powerful.
Ninel Conde is a Mexican singer, actress, and television host perhaps best known for her appearances on such popular Mexican programs as Big Brother VIP, Rebelde, Fuego en la sangre, Mar de amor and Porque el amor Amanda. Over the course of her career, she has also released 3 studio albums, the latest of which was released in 2011, Ayer y Hoy.
A Remix/Greatest Hits album of her music was released in 2020, and the popularity of those recordings seemed to inspire Ninel to jump back into the recording booth to explore her music side again. In a recent interview with El Sol de Mexico, she explained, “We are talking about an album that has the backbone of the Mexican regional, but it will have fusions of different rhythms that are to the liking of the people.”
Ninel may not have released any new music since 2011, but her fans lined up at the front of the railing to catch her afternoon set at Outloud, and based on the number of Spanish-speaking attendees singing along to her hits, you could tell that there is definitely desire for her release new music to add to already popular repertoire
Rhea Litre is an American drag queen, singer, songwriter, and DJ. She is a fixture in West Hollywood nightlife scene and made several appearances at Outloud throughout the weekend. I was only able to catch half of her performance on the main stage, but what I caught was definitely action-packed and a ton of fun.
In her 12-minute set, Rhea had a cadre of dancers accompany her on stage and additional several featured artists perform various songs with her. I wasn’t able to catch the names of all of those singers and rappers that joined Rhea on stage, but they all seemed to be part of Rhea’s “HausOfLitre”, so if anybody knows who they are, let us know in the comments and I’d be happy to add them in the post
Ever since I caught Shaun Ross opening up for Amber Mark at The El Rey, I’ve been keeping an eye on him and his music. I’m a big fan of moody R&B vibes, and he’s definitely got a voice that can handle all of the runs and floats into the falsetto.
It was a lovely performance… pretty perfect for a lazy afternoon… but I think I may have expected a little too much as I thought his performance would be a bit more filled with aesthetic and artistic choices. At his performance at the El Rey, he wore an intricate designer ensemble. For this afternoon set, he kept it simple with a sleeveless black t-shirt and loose-fitting black sweat pants. I’m sure they were designer, but I just figured… based on my last experience with him… that he’d just wear something extra. I also figured that, as a dancer for House of Xtravaganza, he’d have dancers moving sensually to his music during his performance.
Perhaps I expected too much. Maybe he just wanted his music to do the talking for this performance… and it definitely did… but since this was kicking off Pride Month, I just anticipated something extra. You can never go wrong keeping things simple and classy. Shaun did just that.
Greyson Chance got his infamous start in music by performing a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” on the Ellen show in 2010. After growing up and coming out as a proud gay man, Chance has worked hard to be recognized as the talented musician that he is. In the last few years, he’s been increasingly more vulnerable with his fans; whether it’s letting them see a glimpse of his daily life via TikTok or discussing his struggles with anorexia nervosa. His singles “Hellboy”, “Boots”, and “Overloved” have highlighted his audible maturation and his aptitude for creating more than just watered-down pop hits.
Chance’s performance was his first in 3 years in Los Angeles and he didn’t seem the least bit rusty. He appeared back at home on the stage, dancing all over and stopping occasionally to casually chat with the crowd. Seeing Chance still incorporating his piano skills in his set was a little reminder of where he started. Greyson Chance has managed to propel his five minutes of internet fame into a whole music career and it is certainly well deserved.
I love a good, rocking pop song, and The Aces know how to write them. I started following their musical journey back in 2017 when I saw them perform at SXSW. Since then, they’ve released two studio albums, with their most recent album, Under My Influence getting the “Deluxe”) treatment in 2021. Oh… and three of the four members also came out of the closet. No big deal. The band spoke in-depth with the BBC back in 2020 about dealing having to deal issues of sexuality in the music industry and also what it’s like having grown up in a conservative town like Provo, Utah. Their stories resonate strongly with the LGBTQ community.
Their music also resonates… with everybody. They played a brisk 7-song set, that included songs from their two albums (“Stay,” “Bad Love”, “Kelly”, “I Can Break Your Heart Too”, “Lovin’ Is Bible” and “Daydream”). Apparently, they had to cut “Volcanic Love”, “My Phone Is Trying To Kill Me” and “Stuck” for time. They also performed a brand new song, their latest single, “Girls Make Me Wanna Die”; another irresistible pop jam.
What made this performance particularly interesting for me was listening to them perform their songs live again with the knowledge that a majority of the members are gay. Particularly, the song “Lovin Is Bible”. From their debut album, it’s a song that’s obviously rich with religious themes, and watching them perform that song now gave it an added meaning and a real sense of freedom and rebelliousness
Saucy Santana, originally known for his relationship with the City Girls and the hilarity that ensued on their collaborative Instagram live streams, quickly became the fastest rising internet star during the pandemic. The rapper released his first single “Walk ‘Em Like a Dog” in 2019 and soon after was a re-appearing guest on Love & Hip Hop: Miami. Since then, nearly every single he’s dropped has spurned viral Tiktok dance challenges and you can’t go on the app without hearing a snip-it of his music. Santana recently had marked yet another milestone for his fast-paced rap career, as he was recently named as one of XXL Magazine’s “Freshman Class” for 2022.
Prior to even stepping on the stage, Saucy Santana had the crowd anxiously awaiting his presence. He wasted no time and kicked off the set with “Walk ‘Em Like a Dog” and “Shisha”. Santana gave a teaser of his now released single, “Booty”, which instantly caused squeals of excitement from his fans, as the full version hadn’t been dropped yet. As he danced around the stage, Santana showed the crowd that not only could he make music for viral dance challenges, but he could do them too. Later, he invited fans onstage to dance and cheered them on as they enthusiastically did moves that millions online have recorded themselves imitating. Saucy Santana has managed to unlock the key to internet virality and with every new project he drops, his fame keeps rising.
Throughout the weekend, fans for each day’s headliners diligently arrived early and claimed their spots at the pit railing to ensure they had the best view of their favorite artist’s performance. But there was one non-headline performer who got a comparable group of super fans to arrive at the front of the railing for their performance. That artist was Madison Beer. This group of uber-fans was already waiting for Madison before I even stepped foot into the photo pit for my first main-stage performance.
In 2021, Madison released her album Life Support. With the support of her massive social media following, the album entered the national charts around the world, including debuting in the United States at 65 on the US Billboard 200. The music covers a wide range of topics including the virtually obligatory toxic relationship songs to the more personal songs that touch upon her dealings with mental health issues. The sonic palette from which Madison is inspired seems to be wide-ranging, but it’s all held together by her very capable vocal ability. For a debut album, Life Support clearly makes the case for Madison being a pop superstar in the making.
Throughout the day, her fans in the front row were getting more and more anxious because set times were starting to get pushed later and later. By the time Madison took the stage, the cheers of her fans were impressively loud.
To the chagrin of her fans, Madison was required to cut part of her set because of the festival’s schedule falling behind. She had originally planned on performing a 9 song set but ended up performing only six songs (“Baby”, “Good in Goodbye”, “Dear Society”, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, and “Selfish” and “Boyshit”). She had to cut “Reckless”, “Dead” and her Jax Jones collaboration “All Day and Night” from the setlist. When she announced that she had to cut her set short, the moans from the crowd were audible. Clearly, the crowd wanted more. It was a shame that that wasn’t in the cards.
Looking at Jake Wesley Rogers now, you’d have no clue that he got his start in the music business by appearing on America’s Got Talent. At the age of 15, Rogers made it to the quarterfinals of the seventh season of the popular televised talent show. Ten years later, he has been dubbed Gen Z’s Elton John, even getting a cosign from the legend himself. He also was hand-picked by Ben Platt to join him on tour, which just wrapped up in April. Most recently he was a guest judge on HBO’s Legendary and performed his single “Lavender Forever”, an ode to self-acceptance.
The endless comparisons to the Rocket Man were visible and audible the second that Rogers graced the stage. He fervently played the piano for the majority of his set, banging his head to and fro. There was an apparent element of theater in his performance as his entire band was dressed in white suits with tailcoats and Rogers did numerous costume changes throughout. He started in a long glittery red coat, then changed into an equally long gold frilly top, and ended his set in a black leather top with only long sleeves and straps running across his chest. Towards the end, he brought out Betty Who to sing a cover of “Like A Prayer”, which was more than enthusiastically received by the crowd. Jake Wesley Rogers may not be a household name just yet, but his undeniable showmanship will surely pivot him into the mainstream lens soon enough.
If you’re a fan of electronic music, there’s a heavy chance that you’re familiar with Aluna. After getting her start in music as a part of the duo AlunaGeorge, Aluna Francis launched her solo endeavor in 2020 with the release of her album Renaissance. Featuring collaborations with Kaytranada, Rema, and SG Lewis, Aluna used the album to expand her sound by infusing hints of afrobeat, house, and R&B. During this period, she also has been outspoken about the racism that she and many others experience in the music industry, highlighting an especially prevalent issue within the EDM scene. Aluna consistently has championed her POC peers and used her online platform to recognize their talents.
Throughout her set, she rotated between mixing and providing live vocals for her tracks. Aluna utilized the breadth of her discography by playing classic AlunaGeorge hits like “You Know You Like It”, the duo’s collaboration with Baauer “One Touch”, her solo collaboration with Louis the Child “Cry”, and many of her own songs including: “Summer of Love”, “Mine O’ Mine”, and “Envious”. The dancefloor was filled with a lively crowd who basked in Aluna’s brilliance and clearly enjoyed her talents as much as I did. Aluna’s solo venture has provided the space for her to show the extent of her creativity and prove that everything she touches turns to gold.
I was a relatively late bloomer when it comes to Jessie J’s music. In fact, it took her single “Bang Bang” off her third studio album to make pay attention. Holy cow. I remember listening to that single, and saying to myself, “Who is this singer absolutely owning both Nikki and Ariana on this track?” If there’s one thing you can’t deny, it’s that Jessie J’s voice is as powerful and lush as they come. It’s the kind of voice that will make you want to slap any producer upside the head if they even think about adding autotune to it. And with that voice, she ran through a 10-song set that include her hits “Bang Bang”, “Domino”, “Price Tag”, “I Want Love” (which had Jake Wesley Rogers joining her for the performance), “Masterpiece” “Who You Are” and “Do It Like A Dude”.
Even though she’s been relocated to the City of Angels for several years, this was my first time seeing her perform live, and she exceeded each and every expectation that I had. I would find out later on Instagram’s “stories” that, she wasn’t pleased with the sound at the festival, and apologized for perhaps “being out of key or off time or not as present as [she] usually [is]”. She explained that she had to perform from muscle memory and to no music as her in-ears not working correctly.
As a fan of her music, and someone who thinks he knows a thing or two about staying in tune…I can honestly say that Jessie was being way too hard on herself. From the audience, she sounded pretty damn amazing. Also… could she all of the fans singing… or at least trying to sing… along with her every word? Could she see all of the stank faces that were made… myself included… whenever she did some incredible run or belted out a note like she had an endless supply of breath. Could she all of the years that welled up in her fan’s eyes when she sang “Who You Are”? I don’t think anybody in the audience had the faintest idea that there was anything wrong with the sound.
I’d also like to make a point that seeing Jessie J in concert is unbelievably life-affirming. She has just a genial nature on stage, that even amongst a crowd of thousands, it feels like she’s singing her music solely for you. She imparts this unexplainable joy with every line of banter or note she sings … and that’s something special that not all performers have. The ability to allow the love from their heart permeates into the hearts of others. And honestly… even sing a song a whole key off… which she absolutely didn’t do… I think nobody would have given it a second thought.