If you take Kings Elliot’s song “Butterfly Pen” at face value, she and the dog days of August aren’t exactly pals. “Cool summer breezes on me only burn,” she laments on her newest single, describing the drone of sticky, meaningless days lost to malaise.
But it’s funny how the perspective from the Fenway Park stage can change things. As the sun slipped behind the clouds over the Boston stadium Saturday evening (August 20), Elliot beamed during a summer cruise through her budding catalog, “Butterfly Pen” included. The blue-haired Brit primed the packed ballpark for headliners Imagine Dragons and fellow opener Macklemore, two acts known for their peacock struts against backdrops of pyrotechnics and fireworks. Not Elliot — per her upcoming September EP, she’s Bored of the Circus, so her stripped-down performance was all swan songs and no distracting swank.
Separating herself from the pomp of cold sparks and water guns (looking at you, Macklemore), Elliot performed without any buffer to separate her alt-pop admissions from the gaze of thousands of strangers prone to checking their watches. In the music biz, that’s the accelerated way to earn your showmanship stripes — or in this case, inch closer to your crown. Hell, Halsey was in nearly the same position in 2015, opening for Imagine Dragons when her debut LP Badlands was just a distant dream. She headed straight for her castle in that opening slot, and has been reigning over her own devout fandom ever since.
Baptisms Coronations by fire work, and Kings Elliot seems to know it. She didn’t hold back any heartache, and instead pulled from a newfound skillset that allowed her to belt through extreme nerves that plague her on the road, as she previously detailed on social media. Her candid Instagram captions about overcoming anxiety as the tour progresses made songs like “’Til I Die” — a self-described “letter to [her] mental health and [herself]” — feel even more exposed.
By sunset, Elliot had pressed fast forward on those searing summer breezes and advanced to more frigid temperatures, leaving the audience with the final lyrics of “Call Me a Dreamer:” “I’m gonna sleep / My way through the winter / While in my mind / You’re still there.”
Apparently the seasons can change on a dime in Kings Elliot’s kingdom — but it’s clear she’s poised for whatever chills and thrills come next.