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On Monday, September 25, Toronto-born, LA-based singer Allie X opened the doors of the Church of the Holy Trinity for an invite-only performance, a sort-of love letter to her hometown. With a limited number of first-come, first-served spaces available, her small but dedicated fanbase anxiously queued outside the venue, vying for one of the coveted spots.

Upon entering the venue, I was inundated with a perfectly-curated pop manifesto, from the haunting visuals projected on walls riddled with “X” motifs and the pamphlets handed out detailing “The Story of X” to the large neon “X” that filled the back of the stage. Allie has likened her “X” to the mathematical variable “X,” which in this case represents the unknown aspect of her identity—it is a means of self-expression on her quest for self-discovery, a philosophy that may not be immediately apparent in her dreamy and dark pop music. The use of the Church of the Holy Trinity is fitting, especially considering its active involvement with the LGBT community, of which Allie considers herself a strong supporter. Her visuals shine like religious iconography, heralding in new life—and a new mindset—to the beautiful Gothic Revival structure.

As the crowd collected on the floor, the stage filled with the regular pieces of Allie’s band, as well as a string quintet consisting of two violins, a viola, a cello and a double bass. A grand piano sat in front of the stage. Allie has promised a “reimagining” of her favorite songs.

Allie X floats on stage, dressed chicly in a red shift dress cinched in with a black and white obi belt and accented with her signature sunglasses and space buns. She greeted the audience tentatively, probably as confused about the energy of the still-sitting crowd as I was. She began with a reinterpretation of “Paper Love,” the lead single from her latest album CollXtion II (2017). She carried the originally synth-heavy song with confidence, melding her acutely whimsical voice with the dreamy strings. The crowd livened up, ready to stand for the duration of her set. Allie greeted the crowd again more enthusiastically this time, taking off her sunglasses and letting her infectiously bright personality bubble up. She crossed her fingers and stuck them in the air, a sign of affection to her fans.

Allie continued with her hit single “Catch.” As she emerged from her shell, her voice grew even more in strength and clarity. After knocking out some of her poppy bops, she took a seat at the piano, playing soulfully as she belted out the melancholic “True Love is Violent.” She reassumed her position on stage to finish her short but sweet set with the ballad “Sanctuary.” If she hadn’t convinced the crowd of her vocal chops yet, this powerhouse song solidified her soprano status, not once faltering on the soaring, sky-high notes.

As a true ode to her diehard fans, she played the lesser-known single “Misbelieving” as her encore song. Her final goodbye involved a gracious thank you to everyone in attendance, as well as the crossing of her arms in the air to form an “X” with her forearms.

There is little self-indulgence behind Allie X’s pop persona, her true motivation clearly being her fans, urging them to go forth and “Feel X.”  

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