Betty Who - Bowery Ballroom - 4/19
Better Than: Any Who or Guess Who concert in the past 30 years.
Photos Nathalie Zaro. See more Betty Who at the Bowery Ballroom photos.
"Three months ago, I literally did not know what I was doing," Betty Who confided in one of many girlfriendly asides during her headlining set at the Bowery Ballroom Saturday night. What a difference three months can make. A viral video can kill a career as easily as it can make one, and while "Somebody Loves You" showed that the indefatigable, classically trained Aussie transplant is far more talented than your garden-variety, 15-"Fridays"-of-fame phenom, things could go either way.
See more Betty Who at the Bowery Ballroom photos.
But last weekend, just days after her fab and feted major-label debut EP Slow Dancing unexpectedly topped the iTunes pop chart (and peaked at No. 5 overall), Betty capped her first major North American tour with a marathon of performances around her adopted hometown, cramming sold-out headlining shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg and the Bowery, as well as a five-song afternoon set at Rough Trade Records, into a 24-hour stretch on Friday and Saturday.
Towering in stature, voice and personality, the 22-year-old hit the Bowery stage like she'd been shot out of a confetti cannon, kicking off an aerobically physical performance every bit as effervescent as the songs she sings. The new EP's lead single, "Heartbreak Dream," set the scene and the tone: stadium-sized and anthemic, the unabashedly pop song is seasoned with vintage '80s sonics and a quiet middle section that explodes back into the chorus like a shaken bottle of soda. Toward the end Betty led the crowd in a singalong -- this was the opening song, remember -- of the wordless "woah-oh-oh-oh" section of the chorus.
Clad in a cheerleaderesque navy-blue halter and matching pleated skirt, capped by a bright blonde helmet of hair that's recently been growing out, Who is like a six-foot-tall mashup of Robyn and P!nk both visually and sonically -- which, with her many accompanying knowing winks, is catnip both to a certain strain of fan and the intellipop sector of music critics (check the multigenerational new wave echo of the Killers' "Mr. Brightside" on the chorus of "Giving Me Away"). She and her equally on-message three-piece backing band look likeGlee castmembers, sporting matching varsity jackets or sweaters emblazoned with her initials, joining in for the occasional synchronized dance moves. Her logo could be from some early-'80s pop-metal band.