Up-and-comer Clairo brings her intimate, charming bedroom-pop to an enraptured San Diego audience
When 21-year-old Claire Cottrill first came on to the pop music radar, it was with a silly viral music video in 2017 for her song “Pretty Girl,” where she bobbed her head, tried on different pairs of sunglasses, and danced cheerfully in her bedroom to her own song. It seems an appropriate beginning for the lo-fi “bedroom-pop” artist, who has been slowly but surely rising in the pop charts since her album “Immunity” came out this past August.
On Oct.18, Cottrill, known by her stage name Clairo, performed a sold-out show at the House of Blues San Diego. As I waited eagerly in a line that wrapped around the entire building, I watched young fans giggling in anticipation and chattering about their favorite songs, s
pinning their wristbands around and around. Considering that Clairo’s songs have such chill, low-key vibes, it might be surprising that the audience energy was so excitable. Anyone who knows Clairo’s fanbase, though, knows that her fans are endlessly dedicated to her.
The concert kicked off with two openers, alternative rock band Hello Yello and indie artist Beabadoobee. Compared with Hello Yello, Beabadoobee’s music was the one who fit more closely with Clairo’s genre of chill bedroom-pop, but the crowd was brightly enthusiastic for both opening sets.
When Clairo finally came on stage, it was with the slow ballad “Alewife,” the first song off her album “Immunity.” The emotional song is also an ode to her best friend who saved her from committing suicide as a teenager. Positioned in front of bright stage lights that framed her silhouette, Clairo looked close to angelic as she crooned softly to an entranced audience.
It was a somber way to start the night, but also a perfect one for an artist who consistently prioritizes subdued aesthetics and emotional vulnerability.
The next couple of songs, namely “Impossible,” “Drown,” and “Flaming Hot Cheetos,” were considerably more light-hearted and high-energy, though still with Clairo’s signature mild-mannered voice. Behind her and her band, a screen displayed videos of rolling landscapes — deserts, mountain ranges, clouds, and even suburban neighborhoods — as her trance-like voice reverberated from the surging crowds in the front to swaying couples in the back. The mood lighting flashed from mellow greens to girlish pinks to vibrant blues.
During her popular single “Bags,” she requested the audience put away their phones, and the room darkened as she softly sang lyrics such as “I can’t read you but, if you want, the pleasure’s all mine,” and “Pardon my emotions, I should probably keep it all to myself.” Like many of her songs, it’s a song that’s rooted in a relatable fear of confessing your emotions, but also a tentative courage to do just that. It’s my favorite off of her album, and as the audience sang along with her, I did too.
For the ending of the show, Clairo sat alone on a stool with just a guitar to sing an unreleased acoustic song, a serene ballad that had me and the rest of the audience in near tears. After she left the stage, just a minute of raucous cheering brought her back to do a three-song encore: “4EVER,” “Pretty Girl,” and “I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again.” During “Pretty Girl,” Clairo pulled five fans from the crowd to dance onstage beside her as the screen played the bedroom-set music video that had first gotten her so popular. It was a sweetly nostalgic moment for fans who have been around for her since the viral video came out two years ago.
As the night closed out, the upbeat “I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again” gave fans their last chance during the concert to dance with their friends, and everyone took advantage of it. It was a fun, lively way to end a night with such ethereal vibes. Clairo’s songs, with all of their slow intimacy and tender-hearted longing, seem especially necessary in our increasingly fast-paced world. The night was a nice reminder of just how lovely vulnerability can be.
Date: October 18
Venue: House of Blues
Image courtesy of Julianna Covarrubias.