Who's the Boss: Betty Wins Firefly on Saturday
Prior to a storm taking over the narrative, Betty Who captivated at the Dover, Delaware fest.
"Feel free to dance, whatever that means to you. Jump around, or bounce -- we were watching Big Freedia on the bus, so I'm very inspired by bounce right now."
Betty Who's laissez-faire invitation to dance during her Saturday (June 20) afternoon set at Firefly day 3 -- which went down hours before a storm exploded and forced fest-goers to evacuate the premises -- served as a nice summation of her personality. One on hand, Who name-checking Freedia tips off that she's tuned into the underground music that matters today (the Queen of Bounce's insanely turnt performances are more intense than anything on the bill at Firefly 2015). But she wasn't name-dropping to impress or holding her cool above the audience -- if anything, it came across as a friend giving you an update on what she's excited about in life at the moment.
Only Who, unlike most friends, is an unstoppable Australian dynamo with one of the strongest pop debuts in years (last fall's Take Me When You Go). And in the midst of an eclectic Saturday lineup, Who easily stood out as the day's most satisfying performer -- probably because it never seemed like she was performing. She was just being Betty.
For instance, when Who experienced a nearly-revealing moment thanks to a top that wouldn't stay tied, she treated it less like a pop star dealing with a costume change and more like a friend changing shirts at a party.
"I'm having a wardrobe malfunction a la Nicki Minaj at the VMAs," she said with an unperturbed laugh, clutching her chest while she stepped back into the shadows -- but not quite complete darkness -- to take off her top on stage. Instead of switching to a different shirt, Who opted to re-emerge wearing just her sports bra as a top, joking, "I'm living my lifelong dream of taking off my clothes in front of thousands of people!" as she kicked into "Runaways."
And that's the appeal of a Betty Who concert. While other rising pop stars are impressive performers, too, you can never shake the feeling that what you're seeing is a premeditated performance. But her guileless stage banter and dance moves seem entirely organic. You're as likely to witness an endearingly sloppy moment as you are a killer dance move or an impressive high-kick. And as a stage presence, she's unbeatable -- inviting, exuberant and with more than enough panache to justify her standing in front of an audience and demanding your attention.
When she closed with an inspirational run-through of "Somebody Loves You," she asked the audience to sing-along -- or you know, just dance if they weren't familiar with the song. It's that casual attitude -- I'm having the best party, please come, but if not, nbd, you do you! -- that makes Who a singular winner. And it certainly made her set stand out as one of Firefly 2015's shining moments.