Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monáe and Keke Palmer Kick Off Pride Month With a Bang at West Hollywood’s Outloud Music Festival

Pride month kicked off as expected at West Hollywood’s Outloud Festival — which is to say that it brought queer star power to set the celebratory tone at Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ mecca on its opening weekend.

Starting on Friday and running through Sunday, concertgoers were served a platter of musicians who said it loud and proud, from headliners Kesha, Janelle Monáe and Kylie Minogue to acts including Channel Tres, Purple Disco Machine and Big Freedia. Sunglasses were worn at night, clothing was often optional and a general sense of comradery permeated the park, where attendees were unified by the commonality of acceptance and community. If anything, Pride emphasized the importance of being who you are and, of course, the idea that living your truth is in fact the only way to live.

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To that, Outloud fostered an event that welcomed all — gay icons, straight-adjacent DJs, show-stopping drag queens. Almost every performance catered to the audience in the exact way it was expected. Minogue, who headlined on Sunday night, was the crown jewel. The audience was robust and full by the time she took the stage to round out the weekend, more so than for previousperformers, and the crowd was charged throughout. She ran through hits including “Come Into My World,” “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and, obviously, “Padam Padam,” her most recent catch-fire single that won the Grammy for best pop dance recording in February.

Minogue’s set was a victory lap at the onset of Pride month, resplendent with fine-tuned choreography, an arsenal of hits and the debut of upcoming single “Midnight Ride,” where she brought out collaborators Orville Peck and Diplo. Minogue is a curious artist, one who never quite achieved the same celebrity in the United States as the rest of the world, but WeHo was her crowd, and she played her cards correctly. What better audience than the one at Outloud to celebrate an entertainer so naturally acclimated to the demands of pop stardom, one who consistently delivers this far into her decades-long career, and who knows how to hit the most satiating notes for her fans. By the time she concluded with “Love at First Sight,” it was clear that she ceremoniously accomplished what she set out to achieve while making it look easy.

Janelle Monáe, who headlined on Saturday, hit a similar fever pitch, albeit with a minor hiccup. The festival fell behind at a certain point, as artists played long past the end of their scheduled sets, and Monáe appeared 40 minutes after start time around 11 p.m. But the energy never waned as she toured her discography. Her set was a celebration of self — a nod to her most recent album, last year’s “The Age of Pleasure” — replete with renditions of “Electric Lady,” “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Champagne Shit” where, yes, she trotted about the stage with a champagne flute in hand. She brought out a few guests here and there; rapper Doechii made a brief cameo, fresh off her excellent prior performance slot, while actresses Gabrielle Union and Queen Latifah put their shimmy skills to work for a fleeting moment. (Bonus points to Latifah for twerking on Monáe.)

The rest of the festival was sharp and dynamic. Big Freedia brought NoLa bounce to Los Angeles, debuting her upcoming single “I Am” alongside guest Macy Gray, while Channel Tres gave a calm breeze rendition of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money.” Doechii, on the other hand, went full throttle, armed with a team of shirtless male backup dancers to soldier through “Crazy” and “Persuasive.” Keke Palmer, for lack of a better phrase, ate down. It’s easy to forget amid her rising Hollywood star that she’s a purebred performer, and her cover of Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love” was as intentional as it was a spectacle.

Saturday’s event had a much more relaxed vibe, and the fervor around Minogue’s performance the next day drew an overwhelming crowd. At one point, the thoroughfare between the neighboring main and Summertrap stages was so congested (not the brightest move to put the bathrooms between them) that the festival shut down the entrance to the latter, where Waters had a 15-minute set. Those who didn’t migrate sooner had to hear echoes of “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” ping off the towering Pacific Design Center — a disappointment, surely, but a lesson in infrastructure for the future.

Compared to the queer performers and very loud allies that dominated the lineup, Diplo felt like somewhat of an outlier on Sunday’s schedule. Not because of his presence — he has used his own celebrity as a platform for countless queer artists — but because of how obvious his setlist felt: Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” abutting Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and bringing out “Drag Race” royalty Symone and Big Freedia. But Pride is about welcoming all, and although Kaytranada or Honey Dijon might have been more suitable choices, as one attendee near the front of the stage put it, “Nobody knows why he’s here, but we love it.”

That was the driving ethos at Outloud. For all the toxic discourse and increasingly restrictive legislation surrounding LGBTQ+ rights, there are few spaces more welcoming than a Pride festival. With a full month of celebrations to follow, Outloud hit all the right notes, setting the table for a month of celebrating authenticity, no matter what form that takes.

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