Review: PinkPantheress at Brooklyn Paramount

English singer and producer plays two nights at newly restored venue with special guest Ice Spice

By: Apr. 17, 2024
Review: PinkPantheress at Brooklyn Paramount
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New York’s most exciting new venue is Brooklyn Paramount, a newly restored, 2,700 capacity gem in the heart of the borough’s downtown district. Opened in 1928 as the first venue in the world to show movies with sound, it quickly became a hotspot for legendary acts such as Chuck Berry, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald. In 1962, the space was purchased by Long Island University and converted to a basketball arena, which it remained until 2005. 

The theater’s fresh makeover includes seven (!) bars, a sloped floor, and the pristine preservation of its original breathtaking Baroque and Rococo architectural design. Walking into the space is a truly majestic experience, full of history, beauty, and easy cocktail access.

Amid a lineup of artists boasting decades-long careers—Norah Jones, Belle & Sebastian, and Sting, to name a few—PinkPantheress, known for her miniscule, genre-spanning tunes and viral rise to stardom, is one of the first performers to grace the stage of this historic venue. Playing two sold-out shows last Sunday and Monday nights, the 22-year-old TikTok superstar brought her signature sample-heavy beats and angelic voice to a crowd that was ecstatic to be sharing a space with their English pop princess. The enthusiasm only grew when guest star Ice Spice took the stage near the end of the show to perform her verse from their hit duet "Boy's a Liar, Pt. 2." 

Singing to an audience made up of equal parts humans and cell phones, PinkPantheress efficiently worked her way through a catalog of danceable tunes, each a tiny, tasty amuse-bouche that, like a culinary treat posted to the Instagram grid, seems to be best experienced when simultaneously glimpsed through the lens of an iPhone and the eyes of the human who holds it. Whereas in other performance scenarios this could be annoying or distracting, in this case it felt appropriate, as the PinkPantheress brand is synonymous with technology. Not only did she employ the use of the Apple software app GarageBand to create many of her tracks, she also used platforms such as SoundCloud, TikTok, and Snapchat to initially find her audience. By the end of the concert, one is left with the novel, unique sensation of having been on social media in real life.

As if acknowledging the ubiquitous dual gaze of the modern concertgoer, three large, gilded mirrors are set near the back of the stage throughout the evening, serving to reflect the blue-lit faces of the crowd as they simultaneously watch and photograph. The result is an infinite loop—the recording of an event and the subsequent capture of its documentation. As Arcade Fire put it in in 2013, “It’s just a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of a reflection.” 

The role of celebrity, musical or otherwise, has always been to provide a portal through which we can glimpse the most godlike parts of ourselves, and in this instance the subject of the collective gaze has become the act of seeing itself. The fourth wall has been broken and behind that wall is a mirror. The result is a new world of magical validation, one that began with the advent of the internet but which now seems to be reaching its apex with social media and direct access to a new kind of star. It’s a world in which we not only see our idols, but see ourselves seeing them, and them seeing us, on and on forever and ever like an eternally looped music sample. 

On some level, PinkPantheress seems to understand this, and embraces it in the same way she sweetly embraces the crowd with her gentle words of gratitude throughout the night. At one point she even thanks an audience member whom she claimed helped to steady her with their gaze when she experienced a brief onstage dizzy spell. It’s this synergistic feeling that one is left with at the end of the night: a gracious, cooperative give and take between artist and audience. 

We live in a wholly different media landscape than we did even twenty years ago, and while PinkPantheress may be a different breed of star than, say, Whitney Houston or Celine Dion, she nonetheless provides her fans with the experiential and musical equivalent of the Buddha pointing at the moon, reminding us that it’s the act of seeing the moon for oneself, not the finger leading you to it, that matters most. Her appeal stems partly from the fact that she is a fan herself, using samples from artists she admires to create new tracks branded with her individual, unique sound, which she then passes along to her own fans. This cycle of inspiration, creation, and reflection—whether performed in conjunction with and infinitely captured by the latest technology or not—is dependable, time-tested, and sustainable. 

Photo by Sacha Lecca


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