Show Review: Arlo Park’s Infectious Energy Lights Up The Royale

Photography by Jimena Cieza

By Sidnie Paisley Thomas, Staff Writer

Artist: Arlo Parks 

Venue: Royale 

When: Thursday, March 28th


As she reaches the end of her My Soft Machine Tour, Arlo Parks shows no signs of slowing down. Surrounded by people from all walks of life in the crowd, I expected a chill and laid-back show where Parks’s soft-yet-soulful vocals took center stage. Instead, I was delightfully surprised by a groovy, rock and R&B-infused set, where Parks and her band transformed some of her more laid-back tracks into hits meant for the stage. Those who ever questioned Parks’ duality and control of her craft would be made a fool of that night, as she showed that she’s not only a talented vocalist and songwriter, but a confident performer meant for the stage. 



Before Parks took the stage the crowd enjoyed an opening set by Chloe George. George is a young artist from California’s Bay Area, who rose to fame on TikTok after a cover of her singing Kanye West’s “Ghost Town,” went viral. Now she writes and releases original music, as well as writes for many popular artists such as Dua Lipa, Normani, and the Chainsmokers

George was ecstatic to be on stage, constantly stating throughout her set how grateful she was to be performing. It’s clear to see why she found so much fame on TikTok, as her melodic and enchanting voice combined with her relatable and honest lyrics make her a Gen Z dream. She introduced her song “Penny” from her debut EP of the same name as “a song about my anxious attachment style,” and the younger audience amongst the crowd cheered and laughed as she joked about her struggle. Her melodic voice flowed effortlessly as she bounced around the stage and danced through her set. One of my personal highlights was when she paid homage to her roots as a cover artist and performed a cover of Blondie's “Heart of Glass,” which she then seamlessly transitioned into her song “Losing You.” George’s astonishing musical talent and free spirit personality made her the perfect primer for the set to follow her. 



From the moment she ran out onto the stage, Parks’ electric energy was on full display. She opened the show with her song “Bruiseless,” the first track off her most recent album My Soft Machine. The song’s groovy baseline and kicking drum beat intertwine with Park’s poetic lyrics for an enchanting experience. As she sang the words, “I wish I was bruiseless; Almost everyone I love has been abused and I am included,” The audience bopped their heads and swayed along, as her words lit up their souls. The original song is just over a minute long, but Parks’ band tagged on an extra minute and a half full of bass and drums. As they continued to play she danced around the stage, jumping in front of each band member and commanding applause from the crowd. Parks' music may be more emotional and raw, but, from the first song, she set the tone for what was going to be an upbeat and fun show. With the help of her band, she transformed her laidback bedroom pop tracks into groovy hits that you can’t help but sway along to. 

As she continued to play songs from both her debut and her most recent album, Parks kept the energy high despite the deep lyrics. A clear crowd favorite was her song “Caroline” from her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams. She sings about watching a couple have a passionate fight at the bus stop, which ultimately ends in them breaking up. She details the fight escalating until the man begins to shout his lover's name and during the chorus she sings, “Caroline,” over and over again, resembling the man calling for his girlfriend. During the second chorus, Parks jumped into the crowd, shouting “Caroline, I swear to god I tried,” over and over again with them. She stood amidst her fans, singing and swaying with them. The energy in the room was electric. 

Later she sang her song “Euguene,” which she introduced as “a mysterious love triangle involving a strange man.” The crowd laughed and cheered, knowing what was to come. The song details Parks being in love with a girl, who’s in love with a boy, and watching the boy–Eugene–hurt the girl she loves time and time again. The crowd sang the song word for word, shouting out the particularly painful parts alongside her. No matter how hectic things got on stage, Parks always retained her connection with the crowd. Her eyes were always locking with fans, and she was even waving to those on the balcony, who often get ignored. Parks' love for her craft and her fans shined throughout her entire performance. 



While Parks’ music deals with some heavier themes, she also makes sure to remind us that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Before she sang her song “Hope,” she told the crowd that the song began as a mantra she’d say to herself when times got hard. She turned it into a song that's now one of her favorites, she continued. As she sang the lyrics “You’re not alone like you think we are; We all have scars, I know it’s hard,” members of the audience held each other and swayed, and some were even brought to tears. Parks’ raw and honest lyrics across all her songs and albums provide refuge for those struggling with the weight of their own emotions. Her poetic lyrics capture a range of emotions that so many can relate to and see themselves in. 

Specifically, Parks and her music have become a safe space for queer people. Her song “Eugene” deals with themes of queer unrequited love, and many other of them detail the specific heartbreak of a lesbian relationship. In the crowd, I was surrounded by queer couples of all ages holding each other and signing. The venue felt like a safe space for everyone to be who they were without fear, and it was a beautiful thing to witness.

For the final two songs, Parks picked up a guitar of her own and played as she sang. She made sure to thank her band multiple times throughout her show. At the end, they all jumped around the stage, thrashing their instruments and playing together. The love they had for each other was radiating off of them, it made me want to climb out of the audience and jump onstage with them. It was truly remarkable to watch Parks occupy the stage so unapologetically and with no fear. 

Parks not only created a space for her fans to be themselves, but she surrounded herself with performers who gave her the confidence to perform to her fullest potential. After the final song, she returned for an encore and sang her hit single “Softly.” Everyone cheered and sang the words with her. Parks’ talent speaks for itself, but what truly stuck with me that night was her kind spirit and beautiful energy. The room felt like an inclusive space for anyone and everyone, and that was all because of Parks and her love for her fans.

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