Kim Petras review – gothic chaos meets pop fantasy in a queer Eras tour

<span>Kim Petras performing in Glasgow.</span><span>Photograph: Stuart Westwood/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Kim Petras performing in Glasgow.Photograph: Stuart Westwood/REX/Shutterstock

It should be surprising to hear Kim Petras’s worldwide No 1 Unholy only a few songs into her set tonight, but it speaks to the German-born, LA-based pop star’s particular brand of stardom. Her 2022 hit with Sam Smith may have brought her mainstream success – and made her the first out trans artist to win in a major category at the Grammys – but her dedicated, largely queer fanbase have been eating up her bratty dance-pop since her debut in 2017. Put plainly, there aren’t many casuals waiting to hear the hits tonight.

Although last year’s Euro-dance flavoured Feed the Beast was officially her debut album, Petras has released enough distinct EPs and mixtapes to structure tonight’s show as her own personal Eras Tour. The opening section is chaotically gothic: Petras appears dressed as a robot Regency heroine against visuals of CGI demons and stained glass windows, frolicking with her dancers in a witchy circle. Thanks to the consistent heavy drops of King of Hearts and Personal Hell, the horror anthology vibe somehow works.

The second section is a hyperpop porn fantasia dedicated to Petras’ two Slut Pop EPs. She performs a rapid-fire megamix in a schoolgirl uniform, writhing on air vents as Y2K webcam footage plays in the background. The high production values, constantly changing visuals and raucous atmosphere give the feel of an arena show performed in an underground gay club, and it’s fun to see a queer person play with familiar hetero tropes for the delight of a queer audience.

After the rapid overstimulation of the first half, the second follows a more standard pop show format. The songs from second album Problematique – a nod to criticisms about Petras’s continuing work with producer Dr Luke – try on a more sophisticated sex-pop aesthetic, but come off as a weak pastiche of Madonna’s original 90s version. Bratty debut single I Don’t Want It at All still sounds great, but the closing greatest hits section suffers from its unfussy presentation, exposing the saminess of some of her songs. Petras clearly thrives in the centre of AV bells and whistles, and she’s at her best when she leans into chaotic excess.