The Roxy Theatre was rocked by artists phem, Alice Longyu Gao, WRENN and other special guests during the first ever Pheelings Fest, a virtual music festival that was curated by phem and produced by NoCap. Tuning into the concert was like taking a step into a world that is very clearly influenced by past musical acts but that transforms those influences into new and exciting music.
The virtual event opened up with DJ Alice Longyu Gao, and she made sure that her turntable was front and center during her set. Gao played unreleased songs as well as songs from her discography. The 26-year-old jumped all over the stage, which was adorned by a large Rubik’s cube and colorful blocks that looked like puzzle pieces. The decor matched Gao’s playful and nursery rhyme-like hyperpop tracks very well. Gao owned the stage with her moves and her turntable.
“Mommy, I’m having so much fun. I love you,” Gao said in between a song. This moment captured the entire essence of Gao’s set. It was playful, energetic and, at times, musically chaotic.
Next up was WRENN, whose bio on Spotify says she “plays loud music and wants everyone to get angry in a healthy way.” But, her performance elicited everything, but anger.
WRENN exchanged chords with a secondary guitarist as she sang both quietly and sentimentally. She opened up her set with her song “Hailey” where she sang, “Now I’m packin’ a bag, but I gotta ask / Out of everyone, everyone else / Why’d it have to be Hailey?” This song set the tone for her entire set which was riddled with songs about heartbreak and love. WRENN’s performance felt very intimate and heartfelt, especially since she had no backing band except for a secondary guitarist.
Royal & The Serpent, whose real name is Ryan Santiago, followed Wrenn’s set. Santiago’s performance included songs that were very personal, singing about topics such as her own mental health and substance usage. Her vocals were supported by crunchy electric guitars and a drummer that carried the rhythm section unabatedly. Santiago didn’t just sing, she also played some distorted power chords on an electric guitar for one of her songs. She also wasn’t the only singer on stage because phem made a special appearance to perform an unreleased song alongside Santiago.
Her performance was reminiscent of legendary grunge artist Kurt Cobain and his band Nirvana, which Santiago has cited as significant inspirations for her music.
Sueco the Child was next, and he changed things up considerably with his set. He rapped, sang a few unreleased songs and even made a few jokes. Sueco performed using backing tracks and a solitary drummer. At one point Sueco brought out rapper PmBata for a guest appearance. PmBata performed his song “Run It Up” where he raps about how he made his way up from “penny-pinchin’ and rappin’ in hallways” to “handling business.”
Last but not least was Virgin Records artist, phem. The intro for her set began with an ominous and emotionless voice repeating the phrase, “You are now listening to phem,” over and over again. She wasted no time after the intro and immediately began singing “Self Control.” Phem also performed two new songs titled “Congratulations” and “American Beauty” which were released that same night after the concert. Both songs appear on her latest EP titled “how u stop hating urself (pt 1.5).”
Tyler Posey, who appeared on MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” made a surprise appearance to play an acoustic version of a song called “Shut Up” that he made in collaboration with phem and Travis Barker, who was the drummer for Blink-182. That wasn’t the only surprise. phem covered early 2000s alternative classic “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus. Her rendition was identical to the original as far as instrumentation and it was a nice homage to the alternative artists of the past.
At the end of the concert, phem and Posey hung out for a little while and shared their thoughts about the event.
“Pheelings fest forever,” phem said.
“This is just the first one there’s going to be plenty more,” Posey said.
Footage of the concert has not been posted anywhere as of yet, but the music for the entire lineup can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.