Jepsen’s So Nice Tour features a talking moon, floating clouds, and a Tom Hanks cameo

DC really, really, really, really, really, really likes Carly Rae Jepsen. Her Loyal fans have dubbed her an underrated “Queen of Pop.” And her show at Anthem tonight (Thurs, Sept 29th) demonstrated why.

The 2007 Canadian Idol winner broke through globally with her bright and teen-summery viral hit, “Call Me Maybe.” Tonight at Anthem, though, she proved she was more than just an earworm aficionado. Jepsen ran through 26 songs in just under two hours time, running the gambit of emotions and themes. Most, though, centered around life as a free spirited youth trying to find success and love in today’s world.

Baked by technicolor clouds, twinkling stars, and a friendly moon, the show promised at the start of the night to be an evening of escapism where fans could let out all of their emotions through jamming to her music. “Run Away With Me” appeared early in the set, as if the hypnotic beat and Jepsen’s silky voice were beckoning the 6,000 strong to get as far away from the real world as possible. The alternative, her show suggests, is a technicolor world where the only problems are boys and the occasional bout of loneliness.

Jepsen herself, after “Julien,” called talking about her boy problems in front of total strangers “cathartic.” It was for the crowd, too.

Jepsen channeled her inner Blondie on the 80’s infused “Boy Problems.” The rocker inside this pop star was on full display during “Stay Away.” (A song I readily admit to downloading during its last notes.) Tom Hanks’ mug appeared during an anthemic “I Really Like You” — he was in the music video. But the highlight of the night was a song that has not even been released yet.

“Go Find Yourself or Whatever” is a unique breakup song. In it, Jepsen tackles that universally wrenching, there-was-nothing-I-could-do feeling after an “It’s not you, it’s me,” breakup. This was the most earnest song in the set, and perhaps the most emotionally bare of Jepsen’s career. She followed it immediately with “Beach House,” a fun groove about lying jackasses on Tinder. Both are from her forthcoming album, The Loneliest Time, out October 21st.

The most impressive thing about this concert was its deceptive simplicity. Sure, there was a talking moon and her six-piece band were standing on clouds. But there was none of the pomp and circumstance that usually follows female artists. Don’t get me wrong — if someone wants to have 300 costume changes in a show, that is her right. But, often, those spectacles can come across as though the performer felt obligated to do so because she’s a woman. There was no such obligation here.

Jepsen sang her heart out with only two subtle outfit changes. This kept the focus squarely on her vocal talents — where it should be. Her entrancing falsetto is spectacle enough to hypnotize even the most hardened against pop music.

Carly Rae znc crew ended the night with “Cut to the Feeling.” Perhaps that is the best song to summarize a show that encouraged its crowd to feel “everything [they] want to feel.” But it certainly left her DC crowd feeling great. For Ms. Jepsen, it’s not a Maybe. She can Call DC any time.