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Kissing girls, gay boys and blow up bananas
signal crowning of new pop/punk princess

Katy Perry
House of Blues
Chicago, IL
Mar. 26, 2009
Katy Perry Katy Perry Katy Perry

Story by Andy Argyrakis
Photos by Billy Sparks

Putting a stylistic label on Katy Perry is just as tricky as pegging her sexual preference. Sometimes she sings about kissing girls or being one of the guys, but she's just as quick to blast an ex-boyfriend for being oh so gay. Though switching between each side of the fence has earned her mounds of headlines, her music more than lives up to the hype thanks to a cross pollination of slick commercial pop/punk with alternative dance/rock influences.

Across her fourteen song set at a completely sold out House of Blues (her first official Chicago tour stop after warming up the Vans Warped Tour), Perry could stand out in the current female pop company of Fergie, Lady GaGa and even Madonna's recent material, while also possessing the retro quirkiness of Cyndi Lauper, the guitar charged sensibilities of Pat Benatar and occasional club grooves a la Blondie. "Fingerprints" fell somewhere in the middle of the pop and rock sides of her pedigree, pulsating with sugary beats, but also possessing a gritty punch thanks to Perry's sassy singing.

The rugged appeal continued with "One of the Boys," finding the sequin-clad sultan strapping on her six string and bragging about not being afraid of spiders and being able to belch the alphabet. Though childish at face value, Perry's lyrics are actually cheeky, sophisticated and laden with rich metaphors, even if they sometimes get lost in the shuffle due to the infectious nature of her material. Take for instance the on again/off again ode to unstable relationships "Hot N Cold," which literally found the entire ground floor bopping to the beat and singing along with one of this decade's most unshakable choruses to date.

Perry also proved skeptics who've written her off as a mere pop tart by pulling out the acoustic guitar for the pensive pair "Lost" and "Thinking of You," strumming with legitimate, unaccompanied talent and oozing with just as much confidence as during her peppy pleasantries. "Mannequin" and "UR So Gay" picked up the pace and also invoked some sing-a-longs, backed by brightly lit balloons shaped like various fruit varieties.

The sexual innuendos hit full tilt as a spotlight hit a giant banana and inflatable tube of lipstick during the finale "I Kissed a Girl," which even found Perry diving into the crowd and quickly smacking her lips towards a few fawning fans of both genders in the front row. Perry's clearly studied Madonna and has the bag of antics down pat, but like good old Madge, she has the songwriting chops to match and always seems to have the last laugh.
Katy Perry Katy Perry Katy Perry
Katy Perry Katy Perry Katy Perry
Katy Perry Katy Perry

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