Two songs into her set at Hamden, Connecticut’s The Outer Space, the LA-based Aussie Betty Who is choked up and crying on stage. It’s the opening night of her Party in the Valley tour, celebrating her recently released sophomore record, The Valley, and despite the irony of just having performed a new song called “You Can Cry Tomorrow,” the tears are flowing…tonight.
Who (né Jessica Newham) spent two painstaking years writing and recording her new record in the seclusion of the valley of Los Angeles. “I was such a mess making it, because you have to dive into all the emotion and then suddenly you’re stuck there, like, ‘I don’t know how to come back from this,’ So I had to come back before I could put The Valley out and I feel like I have in the last 6 months or so,” she told Out.com.
Working with producers Peter Thomas and Zak Waters (aka Pretty Sister), the record, just like everything else Who touches, bleeds emotion. It’s super relatable, which is quite the draw for her younger crowd of adoring fans, and quite honestly, a refreshing Pop take compared to the mindless drones often found on radio. In Hamden though, Who struggled to keep her composure after the nearly packed house screamed and sang their way through the opening bits, visibly taking her aback.
Dressed in a crop top and skirt adorned with criss-crossing suspenders hanging at her hips, Who is fit to be a booty-shaking cheerleading captain. At her side (and new on this tour) are two studly, back-up dancers who help Who sex the set up. The setlist was comprised of the best of both records. Take Me When You Go tracks “Just Like Me,” “Heartbreak Dream,” “All of You,” and “High Society” (video below) brought huge energy and got the crowd shaking with her. Additional Valley cuts included “Human Touch,” “Free to Fly,” the Donna Lewis cover “I Love You Always Forever” and more. Who even took time out to play two acoustic tracks on guitar, slowing it down for “California Rain” and “Wanna Be,” which really put the subtleties of her vocals and the control she carries on full display.
What made Who so irresistible last time around was her palpable connection to her audience, and she worked to maintain that connection throughout—she grabbed a fan’s phone and danced with it on stage, she knelt down and held fans’ hands while serenading them—her sincerity and heart are just as admirable in person as they are on her records. Who seems completely content playing to smaller crowds (though they’re consistently growing in size), to forge that kind of relationship that makes for lifelong fans, instead of followers who are here-today and gone-tomorrow, chasing the next fad or up-and-comer. It’s this caring attitude of hers that sticks with you when the lights come on.
This time around, Who has more choreography, a longer set, and more confidence, and the woman puts in work—just check out her pre-tour warm-ups on Instagram for hard evidence of that. She’s paving her own path in the Pop world, not expecting to have success handed to her, and not ignoring the (e)motions it takes to reach the top. Keep an eye on her these next few years, though once you’re at her show, it’s all over…she’ll steal your heart.
You really don’t stand a chance.
Setlist, videos and additional photos below.
The Valley / Somebody Loves You tease / Glory Days
You Can Cry Tomorrow
Human Touch / H.U.M.B.L.E.
Make You Memories
Pretend You’re Missing Me
Free to Fly
Blue Heaven Midnight Crush
California Rain – Acoustic
Wanna Be – Acoustic
Some Kinda Wonderful
Just Like Me
All of You
I Love You Always Forever
Somebody Loves You
Betty Who kicks off her Party in the Valley tour in Hamden, Conn.
Betty Who shakin’ it.