When word broke late last Monday that one-time Dos Pueblos student Katy Perry would be returning to her alma mater for a secret, students-only concert, questions abounded. What would she wear? Where would she play? How would Principal Carey react to Perry’s “Peacock”?
Not long after Tuesday’s sixth-period bell rang, screaming students poured from their classrooms and bee-lined it for the school’s Greek Theater, where Perry and her team had constructed a massive outdoor stage, complete with drum risers, smoke machines, and the ever-necessary faux lollipop stage sets. And while a handful of reputable sources insisted that it was Perry alone who had concocted Tuesday’s homecoming, she certainly did not come without her baggage. Namely, a small semi’s worth of promotional materials for the soon-to-be-released You Again, which were strewn throughout the Dos Pueblos courtyard.
There, in the late afternoon sun, kids chanted, cheered, and did the wave up until the moment Perry took to the stage. First appearing in a DP cheerleader uniform — which she later saucily ditched for a skintight minidress — the Goleta-raised pop tart sauntered on stage to the opening chords of her 2009 hit, “Hot n Cold.” Flanked by two scantily clad backup dancers (and two cotton-candy wig-wearing backup singers), Perry joyously egged the crowd on, even getting a small throng of primo seat holders to jump up and down along with her. From there, it was on to a “little remix of one of [Perry’s] favorites,” which ended up being a loungey version of her breakout number “I Kissed a Girl.” Still, the dramatics didn’t go on for too long, as Perry made her way back to the song’s loud, bass-heavy original version after the first sultry chorus.
After that, it was on to the high school stories, which Perry dished out in droves throughout her set. “Maybe you don’t know, but I went to high school here,” she giggled to the delight of her audience. “I was on this very stage many a lunchtimes,” she continued. “I was such a showoff. There was a pumpkin pie-eating contest, which I won, and a freestyling contest that I lost. That was one of the saddest days of my life.” She also reached out to her fans, lamenting, “High school can be tough, but you know what? You’re stronger than that.” Then it was just a future beer toast and a Sin City shout out to Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas,” which found the singer inciting a few lively clap-a-longs in between her vocal leaps.
Still, Tuesday’s sonic highlight came by way of Perry’s fourth offering, “Teenage Dream,” off her recently released album of the same name. With the help of a few well-placed fog machines and some scarily well-timed wind, the pseudo ballad found Perry belting like she meant it against a wall of ‘80s-style synth and some serious power chords. Oldie “Yr So Gay” got a sweetly cheesy send-up, as Perry asked all the seniors to find and hug their closest freshman, and then recalled the story about the high school boy who broke her heart, taunting, “Oh yeah, you chose good.”
From there, the banter got good and racy, with quips about drinking, clubbing on State Street, and getting naked at Butterfly Beach, which she claims inspired her to write her next number, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” Soon after, Perry chose to bust out the almost unpalatable “Peacock,” which found her and a set of backup dancers grinding it out for the kids over lines like, “I wanna see your peacock cock cock.”
Classroom appropriate? Probably not. To be expected? Absolutely.
No matter what your thoughts, the students ate it up, and will no doubt be riding this Perry high long into the fall semester.