Featured image and gallery: Gracie Hall
The night opens with Viji, a London-based artist of Austrian and Brazilian origin. Arriving on stage in a baby pink jersey and hot pink fluffy boots, she delivers a guitar-laden, grunge-influenced set. This is quite the contrast to headliner Baby Queen’s high energy, pop-charged songs.
Bella Latham, known by stage moniker Baby Queen, springs onto the stage of the final show she’ll play before the release of her debut album, Quarter Life Crisis. In celebration, the crowd of enthusiastic fans don homemade crowns and wave a banner emblazoned with ‘QLC RELEASE NIGHT’. Across the course of the night, Latham will perform every track from the upcoming record.
Roses cascade onto the stage during her third song ‘Dream Girl’. It’s clear Bella and her fans have a deeply personal relationship. ‘A Letter to Myself at 17’, for example, is written to Bella’s younger self and highlights struggles with friendships, body image and substance abuse.
Though the nature of her music can be serious, her infectious and friendly energy pulsates across the diverse crowd. At the halfway point, she jokingly asks for someone to get her a tequila shot from the bar and someone is more than happy to oblige, the shot glass passed through the venue and onto the stage. During ‘Obvious’, she invites fans to put their phone lights on, a twinkle in her eye as she quips with her lighting technician: “It annoys him very much”.
The Lorde-esque vibe of ‘Raw Thoughts’, penned in 2017, is a set stand-out and its relatable lyricism reminds many of tough times faced themselves. Baby Queen has perfected the art of creating music that makes people feel deeply understood. As if she went inside your head and wrote a song with what she saw.
The whimsical, alt-pop vibe throughout the show is reminiscent of Wolf Alice and in a similar vein, Bella is making a breakthrough into the public consciousness. More than one Baby Queen song has featured on the hugely popular Netflix series Heartstopper and much like the show, Latham’s own queer representation is hugely important.
As Bella takes a bisexual flag thrown on stage and wraps herself in it, emitting an immense pride in herself and the whole community, the energy in the room is that of support, togetherness and unconditional love.