RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3 winner and “Skinny Legend” Trixie Mattel served an energetic mix of guitar strums and punch lines.
Most Murray & Peter Present drag tours are ensemble cast affairs, with the hottest queens from various seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race united on stage by a common theme. Every once in a while, however, a very special drag queen earns a solo trek across North America.
2016 saw Drag Race star Latrice Royale doing a limited engagement run of Here's to Life, an intimate, cabaret-style retelling of her life story. Now, Trixie Mattel is on the road with Now With Moving Parts, an ambitious, nationwide solo tour in support of her new album One Stone. Fresh off winning RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3, Trixie commanded the crowd like a star who's no longer "on the rise," but instead a fully cemented LGBT icon.
The night began with Trixie's music producer Brandon James Gwinn as opening act. Gwinn led the largely gay audience in fun sing-along numbers on piano. These included "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus, "Barbie Girl" by Aqua and "Part of Your World" from Disney's The Little Mermaid. The crowd was living for it, loudly and enthusiastically singing along. Gwinn would sprinkle in smart humor, which was a great primer for a full night of music-meets-comedy. By the time Gwinn launched into an original song, "Your Face," the loosened-up crowd busted out laughing. An ideal reaction to the material, as the song deftly mixed familiar pop sounds with comedic lyrics.
Trixie Mattel opened her set with "Mama Don't Make Me Put on the Dress Again," her 2017 debut single. Effortlessly singing and playing instruments in tandem, her skilled musicianship impressed. Even though she performs country-folk music in full Barbie-esque drag and stiletto heels, Trixie's passion for the genre does not feel like tokenism or a gimmick. It was clear from the get go that she respects the genre.
Comedy is what Trixie Mattel is best known for, from being an audience favorite "comedy queen" on RuPaul's Drag Race to hosting The Trixie and Katya Show on Viceland. Immediately after her opening number, Trixie put down the pink guitar and launched into a jaw-dropping stand-up routine. References to RuPaul and Drag Race were toned down in favor of crowd interactions - and more unexpected subject matter, like school shootings and dating apps.
Mattel later sang a handful more songs while strumming on custom guitars made by the likes of Fender. These included folk tracks from her new album One Stone, like the hit "Moving Parts" and her current single, "Break Your Heart." There were also some brilliant covers. An acoustic mashup of Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi" and "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac joined the millennial and baby boomer generations in the audience together for a sing-a-long. Trixie's mashup of "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World and elements of Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" felt a bit less fluid, but still got the crowd's motor runnin'.
Brandon James Gwinn came back to the stage from time to time, providing backup vocals and instrumentation. He even popped up as Jesus Christ... and asked Trixie for a selfie. Oh lord!
References to stan Twitter were frequent, from the announcer dubbing Trixie a "skinny legend" to Trixie performing an entire number themed around the popular God Warrior meme.
Trixie Mattel sang 100% live - and sounded great. Though they're known for lip-syncing, drag queens singing live isn't as uncommon as it would seem. RuPaul, Latrice Royale, Willam, Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck, the late Divine and countless other drag stars have been known to sing live.
The Minneapolis stop of Trixie Mattel's Now With Moving Parts tour deftly balanced its comedy and folk music elements. Folk can come across as old-timey and serious, so the fact that a comedic entertainer has successfully popularized it in 2018 is remarkable. The shock and awe factor of her stand up comedy worked because she had the confidence to land the riskiest of punchlines. It didn't hurt that her audience was clearly there to support their favorite queen.
For more tea, read my exclusive interview with Trixie Mattel.
Want to see Trixie Mattel on her Now With Moving Parts tour? Buy tickets now.