PinkPantheress Was a Low-Key Superstar in Toronto

Danforth Music Hall, April 7

With Bktherula

Photo: Morgan Hotston

BY Ian GormelyPublished Apr 8, 2024

As PinkPantheress, English musician Victoria Walker has managed the Herculean task of turning North American kids on to the sounds of early oughts UK dance music — albeit 20 years too late.

Yet, even as she's built their career out of sharing her deepest thoughts and anxieties through song, she's managed to keep an air of mystery about her. So as her current Capable of Love tour rolled into Toronto for a sold out show, there was the sense that an IRL appearance might give fans the slightest look behind the PinkPantheress curtain.

Following an energetic set from Atlanta MC Bktherula, Walker emerged from the side of the stage — her small turquoise purse, which has taken on its own narrative, dangling off her left arm — to screams and a sea of phones in the air. As she quickly launched into "Break it Off," fans sang back every word back to her. The airy production on songs like "Pain" and "Mosquito" were given some added sonic depth from the four-piece band that backed her, especially the live drummer who replicated many of the high octane garage beats.

With a set broken up into four acts, Walker moved swiftly through her catalogue, jumping from one soft-focus banger to the next while taking brief breaks off stage every half-dozen songs or so. "I'm in the six!" she gushed early on, before sticking out her tongue cheekily. The love was certainly mutual. Walker graciously accepted gifts from fans in the front row, signing items and even unfurling a Canadian flag signed by people in the crowd.

Though there were a trio of mirrors set behind the band, and spoken word segues between acts, there was little in the way of a concept behind the performance. The set's breeziness mirrored her laid-back persona — nothing felt laboured or rehearsed. Quick quips were made in the moment, stage movements appeared unplanned and Walker carried herself with the wide-eyed joy of an artist still in thrall of her own idolatry amongst her fans. It was a refreshing approach in an era where pop fans often need a reading list to decipher the easter eggs and meta-narratives of their favourite singers' music.

After a rollicking version of "Boys a Liar," complete with a canned verse from Ice Spice, Walker once again ducked off stage before returning to start a chant of "one more song" for herself. At the end of the short but thoroughly enjoyable set, it was clear that trying to solve the mystery of PinkPantheress is the wrong framing device. Clearly unconcerned with the glitzy accoutrements that come with modern pop stardom, PinkPantheress prefers that you just enjoy the music. 

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