Pride Week at the University of California, Santa Barbara culminated with a celebratory free concert in The Hub on Friday, April 8, featuring artists Kitten, Junglepussy and Le1f. Associated Students Queer Commission organized the concert, and Vivian Storm, drag performer and new staff advisor for the UCSB Residence Hall Association, hosted.
First to take the stage was Los Angeles-based band Kitten, energizing the crowd with their synth-heavy dance-rock. The band’s 21-year-old front-woman Chloe Chaidez seemed at home on the stage, which was not surprising as she’s been performing for almost half of her life. Chaidez played tambourine while flipping her long black hair for Kitten’s popular song “Fall on Me” off of their EP Heaven or Somewhere in Between, which was released just last month.
Next up was New York rapper Shayna McHayle, known by the moniker Junglepussy. Having received love from Erykah Badu on Twitter and opening for the likes of Lil’ Kim, Junglepussy is no novice. Her cool demeanor and smooth lyricism were effortless.
The crowd went especially crazy for Junglepussy during her performance of “Spicy 103 FM,” the intro to her sophomore album Pregnant With Success, in which Junglepussy acts as a radio host. “To all the brothers out there listenin’/Who know how to appreciate a strong-minded/Hard-working sister/Call us up at 877-B-L-A-C-K-L-U-V tell us something good.”
The final and main act was fellow New York rapper Le1f who took the stage outfitted in a bright orange mesh tank, a white fur coat and shiny sunglasses, with his hair artfully placed atop of his head.
Le1f has been touring his album Riot Boi since January, with the first leg in Australia and Europe and the second leg in cities across the United States with the support of Junglepussy. During Le1f’s performance, Junglepussy came back onstage for her feature on Le1f’s track “Swirl” off of his album Riot Boi. Their combined stage presence made it clear that Junglepussy and Le1f are not only tour mates and collaborators, but also true friends and fans of each other’s work.
Many people commend Le1f for being openly gay in the notoriously homophobic genre of rap, yet, of course, that is not the only thing Le1f wants to be known for.
In a profile the Fader wrote on Le1f, he says, “I am gay, and I’m proud to be called a gay rapper, but it’s not gay rap. That’s not a genre. My goal is always to make songs that a gay dude or a straight dude can listen to and just think, This dude has swag. I get guys the way straight rappers get girls. I’m not preachy. The best thing a song can be called is good.”
At the end of the show Le1f let his hair down (literally) and emerged from the stage into the audience. Sweaty fans surrounded Le1f, bouncing and singing along to his catchy hit song “wut.”
Host Vivian Storm closed the show by thanking the audience, commenting that they couldn’t be performers without the support of an audience. Referencing events of Pride Week, from the vogue workshop to the student drag show, Storm proclaimed how important these events are for LGBTQ representation on the UCSB campus: “Don’t let UCSB Pride end here. Let this week live in years to come.”