Lana Del Rey is perhaps most well-known as a purveyor of melancholia, singing songs of dysfunctional love and romanticized drug use and nostalgic references to Americana. It was therefore only fitting that her Spotify-hosted listening party for her just-released album, Lust For Life, would take place at a restored Victorian house in West Hollywood now serving as the chandelier-lit bar No Vacancy, a hidden echo of the past among the industrial beige buildings surrounding it.
For Del Rey, the venue was swathed in curtains of flowers, baby’s breath lining the railings of the porch where she would perform, daisies dripping from the front wall. Flower-crowned fans consumed cotton candy and alcohol, both complimentary, and crowded outside in the garden. It was a setting that seemed to have been spun from her songs, made only more apparent with Del Rey’s own observation that her song “Gods And Monsters,” featuring the lyric “I was an angel/ Living in the garden of evil,” was a “good call” to perform — “us being in the middle of the garden of evil and everything.”
Yet when Del Rey herself emerged, she wasn’t dripping in flowers and pouting broodingly — she was in track pants and a plain black long-sleeve shirt. Her dark hair, almost purple under the pink-tinged lights, was pulled into a low chignon, and she was smiling. Lana Del Rey, the icon of Hollywood sadcore, appeared genuinely, carelessly happy.
The ensuing performance was as casual as her attitude. There was no band: A few VIP guests lined the back of the stage instead, and intermittently Del Rey would simply walk around the stage and talk to them, laughing and touching their arms like old friends (which they very well could be) as she sipped a Red Bull. She sang along to a recording of her album, her voice warbling and angelic, even mouthing along to A$AP Rocky’s verses in “Summer Bummer.” Sometimes she stopped mid-verse to kneel at the edge of the stage and take selfies with the fans screaming for her attention, taking Snapchats with the phones they offered her and throwing out CDs of Lust For Life. When her voice cracked during a particularly high note in “Serial Killer,” she breathily laughed, “Fuck.”
Later in the evening, she stopped the music, asking instead, “Should we do like a little fourth-grade Q&A?” The resulting response from the audience was peppered with “yas queens” and “Lana, I love you!” When one fan cheekily asked if she’d ever consider dating him, she laughed, seemingly embarrassed, but responded with: “I have gone on a date with a fan — how old are you?”
Though the fans’ collective shriek of joyous disbelief made his answer indiscernible, he was apparently not old enough.
“I’m trying to stick to around 27,” Del Rey seemed to say.
After fielding questions such as her favorite song (“Heroin,” from her new album), whether she’d ever done heroin (“no comment”), the inspiration behind her music (“they’re easy to listen to if you’re a weirdo like me”), and if she needed help making good decisions (“I do need help making good decisions!”), Del Rey announced she had a few more songs to play from her album — but they’re sad.
She sang a few verses before smiling and motioning to cut the music.
“I’m fucking up the slow song because I don’t want to hear it!” she said, and immediately fans jumped in with requests. She sang a few verses a cappella, letting fans prompt her with the next word when she had trouble remembering.
She smiled the entire time.
“In My Feelings”
“Beautiful People Beautiful Problems”
“When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing”
“Tomorrow Never Came”
“God Bless America — And All The Beautiful Women In It”
“Lust For Life”
“Off To The Races”
“Gods And Monsters”
This article originally appeared on Billboard.
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