Summer of 2012: Every department store dressing room, car speaker, and teenage bedroom echoes with the chorus of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
The pop star's first hit has remained one of the most recognizable tunes of the decade, with its video amassing more than 1 billion views on YouTube. And in the years since, Jepsen has made a transition that few have—from chart-topping hitmaker to cult favorite indie darling.
Jepsen’s latest album title, Dedicated, could very well describe her fan base. From creating countless Twitter memes to giving her an inflatable sword at last year’s Lollapalooza, Jepsen’s listeners have shared their love for her in shamelessly enthusiastic ways. Adorned in sequins and giddy with anticipation, the nearly 2,000 people filing the State Theatre on Friday (her first Twin Cities show since her appearance at the Varsity in 2016) lived up to their reputation.
The stage setup was relatively spare: a handful of LED displays with simple graphics, a staircase in the middle of the stage, and, of course, a giant, glimmering disco ball. Preceded by her four-piece band and two backup singers, Jepsen emerged at the top of the stairs. Adorned in a fiery orange bodysuit and matching miniskirt, she shook her platinum bob and beamed a genuine smile.
The crowd’s booming adoration nearly obscured the first lines of the opener, Jepsen’s sultry new single “No Drug Like Me.” But the shouts quickly transitioned to a chorus of voices singing along with each word, a behavior that continued for the rest of the nearly 90-minute set. Jepsen wasted no time getting to fan favorites, playing the title track off Emotion then the anthemic “Run Away with Me” from the same album.
Just six songs in, Jepsen burst into “Call Me Maybe,” which was met with the expected fervor and shouted lyrics. That was far from the high point of the set, though—the energy didn’t ebb during the following song, “Now That I Found You,” a disco-influenced track that debuted in a promotional video for the new season of Queer Eye. And the spirit of the performers and crowd alike was maintained through singles like “Boy Problems” and the self-love celebration “Party for One” as well as deeper cuts like Emotion B-side “Store.”
For her lovelorn audience, Jepsen’s songs connect to a familiar place of unrequited crushes and romantic shortcomings. During “Too Much” the audience pleaded along as Jepsen sang, “When I love you, then I love you too much/Is this too much?” and the tangible connection was especially remarkable since the song was released only two months ago.
Jepsen’s stage presence felt modest and unpretentious in contrast to the grandeur of the State Theatre. The pop princess closed nearly every track with a genuine, magnetic smile, while stage banter was limited to a few short “thank you”s and a couple surely charming remarks that were unintelligible beneath audience cheers.
Midway through the set, Jepsen left the stage during an extended outro, then returned in a starry two- piece and lavender tights, her dance moves resuming without hesitation.
For her encore, Jepsen performed two tracks from Emotion and then closed out the show with the 2017 single “Cut to the Feeling.” Filled with bright synths and longing in the way all the best Carly Rae Jepsen songs are, the track opens with the line “I had a dream, or was it real?”—a fitting question after the fantastic allure Jepsen had displayed for the entirety of her show.
No Drug Like Me
Run Away With Me
Happy Not Knowing
Call Me Maybe
Now That I Found You
I’ll Be Your Girl
Want You in My Room
When I Needed You
Everything He Needs
Party for One
Let’s Get Lost
Cut to the Feeling