Big Freedia, Carly Rae Jepsen Triumph at L.A. Pride After Orlando Tragedy

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(Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)

L.A. Pride weekend in West Hollywood was obviously supposed to be a celebration. And that’s how it started, on Saturday, when British electropop starlet Charli XCX headlined with special surprise guests Rita Ora and JoJo. However, by the end of Saturday evening, news had spread about the tragic shooting at Orlando’s gay nightclub Pulse – the deadliest mass shooting in the United States, and the worst U.S. terror attack since 9/11.

Sunday, therefore, was a very different, much darker day at L.A. Pride. But in the end, love, hope, and good music prevailed.

The mood Sunday – the day of the West Hollywood parade on Santa Monica Blvd. – was noticeably (and understandably) more somber compared to Saturday, especially when it was revealed that a 20-year-old Indiana man, James Wesley Howell, had been arrested while heading toward the festival, allegedly with an arsenal of weapons. But these shocking news stories didn’t deter members and friends of Los Angeles’s LGBT community from showing up and showing their support. And by the time Sunday’s main musical acts – New Orleans’s “Queen of Bounce” Big Freedia on the Hip-Hop Stage, and indie-pop princess Carly Rae Jepsen closing out the Main Stage – performed at West Hollywood Park, the vibe was celebratory once more.

The boisterous, bootylicious set by Fuse TV reality star and underground bounce icon Freedia was basically one endless, enthusiastic twerkathon, featuring an assortment of scantily clad dancers and stage-rushing, rump-shaking fans wiggling and writhing to jams and club bangers like the frenetic “Azz Everywhere.” But Freedia’s show ended with a serious moment, when he performed an interpolation of Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” dedicated to Orlando as spectators raised their phones and lighters in unison salute. “Y’all gotta continue to stand up and be who you are. Be yourselves, but protect yourselves at all times, but don’t take no s— off of no motherf—er!” Freedia told the cheering, unafraid audience. (Video below contains profanity.)

Jepsen kept things light during her concert, merely mentioning it had been a “tough weekend” and that it was “hard to know what to say…so let’s party!” But her sweet, starry-eyed odes to old-fashioned infatuation, starting with the winsome “Run Away With Me” and ending with the effervescent hit singles “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You,” provided exactly the mood-lift that L.A. Pride attendees so desperately needed.

What an amazing concert by Carly Rae Jepsen. #lapride #weho #LA #carlyraejepsen

A video posted by Alfonso Cervantes (@alinoc2110) on Jun 12, 2016 at 11:33pm PDT

L.A. Pride took place June 10-12 in West Hollywood. Other standout performers of the weekend included Shamir (who dedicated one of his songs Saturday to slain Voice star Christina Grimmie, another victim of Orlando gun violence this weekend), Krewella, Bebe Rexha, Faith Evans, Gallant, Trina, Lion Babe, and Hailee Steinfeld.