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Review Mon Oct 07 2013

You'll Want to Know More About Betty Who

Standing 6'2", with a cropped coif of white-blond hair, there was no missing Betty Who as she marched into Schubas on Saturday night and promptly went to the bar to grab a drink before her show. Who, an Australian native, New York resident, Berklee School of Music student, and most recently, the happy and surprised beneficiary of a
viral video in which her song is featured, made Schubas feel as cozy as a living room and as charged as a headlining arena tour.

There's something to say about seeing an artist in a tiny, 200-person club. Proximity aside, it's really up to artists to make a show feel intimate to all involved. Who, who was gabbing with fans by the side of the stage before her grand entrance, was clearly no novice in the crowd-pleasing department. Her soaring, '80s-style synth pop filled the room as she launched into "You're in Love," one of the songs on her The Movement EP.

"Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the world," Who said after her leadoff song, pandering to the crowd in the best way possible. "I only have four songs," the singer joked, "So I'm going to play some new ones."

Who played a new, as-of-yet unreleased single "Heartbreak Dream," to great effect, as well as a slowed-down version of Taylor Swift's "22" (it was her birthday) that convinced me and probably everyone else that this was the way the song was meant to be sung.

Clearly at home on the stage, Who danced, smiled, and belted her songs while rarely missing a note, and looked to be having 100% as much fun as each audience member. Between laughing with her band, all of whom were decked out in WHO CREW t-shirts, poking fun at her own love life ("This must be a theme in my life...the next song is called 'Alone Again'"), Who was an unaffected and relatable performer who effortlessly worked the crowd into a lather. Speaking as if she was surrounded by her closest friends, she alternated between confident performer and self-deprecating, regaling the audience with funny stories and personal tidbits. Who came off as just another 22-year-old stumbling through the follies of love and growing up like the rest of us, resulting in a rare camaraderie between artist and fan that felt sincere and reciprocal.

Who's lack of self-consciousness seeped into the audience, each of whom in my vicinity were dancing as goofily and joyfully as if no one were watching for the entire show. She sang the hell out of Miguel's "Use Me," apologizing to her parents in the audience afterward for singing the line in the song that goes, "Defiiiiiiiiiile me." Another highlight involved her bringing a member of the audience on stage for a "twerk-off," luckily with a very game member of the crowd which resulted in hilarity for all.

For all her relatable asides and friendly demeanor, there is no doubt Who is serious about being a pop star — and stands an excellent chance. At present, she occupies a unique step in the career of a musician: She is poised on the brink of "making it," (with a little help from a viral video — it is 2013, after all), but still possesses the humble nature and grind of a new artist. With the energy level at a 10 for nearly the entire 45 minute set, hooks worthy of Katy Perry, and a loyal and raucous (albeit small for now) fan base, my guess is Who won't be waiting very long, and all 200 people at her Schubas show will soon have a great story to tell about the early days of a great pop star.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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