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After years of dominating New York’s underground clubland, nightlife maven Ladyfag celebrated Pride 2018 this past Friday with her first queer music festival: LadyLand.

All photos by Chloe Sobel | Facebook | @ChloeSobel | Instagram

Taking place at Bushwick’s indoor/outdoor party palace The Brooklyn Mirage, the event kicked off NYC Pride Weekend as an afternoon-to-morning celebration of decadence and expression. It certainly was a stellar first showing.

The talent lineup was wildly disparate sonically–from rap & R&B to bubblegum pop and punk rock–but somehow made complete sense in context. The crowd itself was similarly diverse. Ladyfag’s clientele is known for the severe looks they turn out at each and every one of her parties, and LadyLand was no exception. Sequins, headpieces, and drama were on display anywhere you looked, with no shortage of shirtless Chelsea boys filling in the gaps.

Of course, the evening wasn’t without its hiccups. A mid-evening downpour lasted the better part of an hour, and some technical difficulties before and after the inclement weather threw off the night’s rhythm. However, the sheer starpower under the Brooklyn sky made it a night to remember well into the fest’s next appearance.

Here are the best performances we saw at LadyLand 2018.

SOPHIE | Photo: Chloe Sobel

We had high expectations going into this one, and thankfully they were met. From the opening notes of “Not Okay,” it was apparent that the packed King’s Hall was going to be a dark pit of banging bass slams and sweaty revelers. The 9-minute, rave-cum-grindcore closer of The Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, “Whole New World / Pretend World,” was next, cementing the brash, abrasive trajectory the room would take for the next hour

It was a dark, unsettling, and entirely unforgettable set, with SOPHIE behind the decks looking entirely unfazed by any of the chaotic energy that was driving the crowd. Ending with an encore of the plasticized clinks and clanks of “HARD,” the Los Angeles-based artist’s set closed as aggressively as it began.

Cupcakke | Photo: Chloe Sobel

As if by divine intervention, the mid-evening downpour cleared up right as Chicago’s raunchiest rapper took to to the stage. She was a late addition to the lineup–having only been announced two days ahead of the fest–but she was certainly one of the night’s highlights. Roaring through a brief set of some of her biggest tracks–including “Vagina” and her breakout single “Deepthroat”–that had the crowd rapping along to every word, the Chicago rapper oozed charisma at every turn.

The high point? An electrifyingly euphoric rendition of her anthemic single “Lgbt,” which ripped through the Pride crowd like a rainbow wave.

Kim Petras | Photo: Chloe Sobel

Kim Petras
With an aesthetic that essentially boils down to a 2003 Teen Choice Awards red carpet come to life as a popstar, Petras has made a name for herself with a seemingly endless supply of radio-ready hooks (as well as some piping hot takes about Dr. Luke). Her indelible stage presence turned out one of the LadyLand’s best performance, roaring through the skyscraping, bubblegum-with-an-edge choruses of tracks like “I Don’t Want It At All” and “Hillside Boys.”

“Heart To Break” really is just a perfect, stadium-sized pop classic in the making, and hearing it ring wall-to-wall at the Brooklyn Mirage as the sky began opening up was a true moment.

Ssion | Photo: Chloe Sobel

Coming out as a full band decked out in full-body cow makeup that could only be described as “stunning,” the Cody Critcheloe-fronted project delivered chilled out electropop grooves that took the crowd into the later hours of the evening.

After opening with Roisin Murphy’s stream-of-consciousness “The Cruel Twirl” monologue of self-empowerment and paying the bills from the recent O LP, Ssion (pronounced “shun”) dove immediately into more recent album cuts like the slinky “Inherit” and disco-tinged “Heaven Is My Thing Again.” A brief jaunt back to 2012 was next up with a performance of “Luvvbazaar” before things ended on a high note with the bouncy “Comeback.”

Other bits & bites:

DJ Minx – It was way too past our bedtime to get the full Minx experience, but the brief glimpse we caught of her post-2 am was full of soulful grooves.

Kembra | Photo: Chloe Sobel

Kembra – Seeing the leading force of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black in the flesh was a fantastic shock in and of itself. However, seeing her standing on her head singing a punk cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” as another painted woman shoved a crucifix inside of her is an image we’ll never, ever forget.

Aquaria – We’re possibly hours away from being able to just call her America’s Next Drag Superstar, but the RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist showed off the goods during a brief lipsync on Friday night. Complete with backing dancers and a multi-song medley that included Madonna’s “Gang Bang,” the New York-based youngster succinctly made her case on just why she deserves to be crowned.

See some more shots of the action below.

Nightlife legend Amanda Lepore makes a surprise appearance. | Photo: Chloe Sobel
Ladyfag braves the rain | Photo: Chloe Sobel
Revelers taking in the sights and sounds. | Photo: Chloe Sobel
SOPHIE, continued. | Photo: Chloe Sobel

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