Paris Paloma at The Atlantis: Feminine Rage and Feminine Joy

June 25, 2024

Review by Saskia Jorgensen

Photos by Saskia Jorgensen

Singer-songwriter Paris Paloma’s “labour” recently blew up on social media as an outlet for female-identifying people to voice their frustrations and anger with living in our patriarchal society. Scrolling through TikTok, my feed has been flooded by videos of women sharing how its lyrics are reflected in their lives, mothers, grandmothers, friends, and women all around the world: 

“All day, every day, therapist, mother, maid
Nymph then a virgin, nurse then a servant
Just an appendage, live to attend him
So that he never lifts a finger
24∕7, baby machine
So he can live out his picket fence dreams
It's not an act of love if you make her
You make me do too much labour”

Yet, these expressions of feminine rage are contrasted by a unique sense of joy and solidarity that is reflected in her live shows. 

On June 23rd, Paloma performed at The Atlantis in Washington, DC, creating a quick sense of community within the venue. Early on in the show, she discussed her rationale for pairing sonically-dissimilar songs in her set list, describing that the lyrics of both songs discuss “the passage of wisdom and love through generations of women.”

Paloma closed the show with “labour,” ending a beautiful evening on a powerful note that elicited feminine rage from the crowd. During the final bridge, there was a sense of righteous indignation as audience members––mostly women, many adorning long dresses and skirts and attending the show with friends––scream-sung the lyrics together. 

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Paloma discussed feeling overwhelmed by the reaction to the song. “It was just picked up by women, by the trans community, by the queer community, everyone [who] resonated with it,” she said. “It became something so much bigger than me, which I was so grateful for. But also at the time, I felt really ill-equipped to thank everyone.” 

The storytelling and symbolism of “labour” are consistent with much of Paloma’s music. Several of the singles from her upcoming album, Cacophony, dissect themes of gender and sexism. For example, the track “boys, bugs and men” explores the evolution of power and cruelty as boys are socialized into men, and “as good a reason” describes how women helping each other succeed can be a form of resistance.

Through both her music and shows, Paloma is carving out a space for women to name the collective injustices we too often normalize and to celebrate the beauties of femininity we too often overlook.

As I walked out the doors of The Atlantis, I called my mom. Mostly, I wanted to share my reactions to the show with her––to take a moment to recognize how I’ve seen these patriarchal patterns show up in my life, in her life, in our family members’ and friends’ lives, and how infuriating it can be. But honestly, I also called my mom because I attended the show alone, which meant I had to walk home alone. Like so many women, I’ve been trained to feel safer having someone on the phone during my walk back.

In the irony of the moment, my feminine rage felt more justified than ever.