Birthdays can be overwhelming. For a lot of us, the anxiety of another year older can bring feelings of pressure, lament and existential dread. However, Maude Latour doesn't see them this way. Within the historic walls of Pilsen’s Thalia Hall, the indie popstar rang in her 24th birthday in style at the 14th stop of her Twin Flame Tour, citing her teeming excitement for the possibilities of the year to come.

Walking into the venue, it felt more like heading to a friend’s birthday party than a concert. Fans donning silver chrome eye glitter, chunky boots and ‘Happy Birthday’ headbands had an openness and rapport with each other reflective of the venue’s intimate nature. Latour also set up a makeshift mailbox at the end of the merch station where fans could drop cards, letters, photos or anything else for the pop star that could fit through the slot.

The show opened with a 9-song set from 22-year-old L.A.-based alt-pop artist Devon Again, who gained mainstream traction on TikTok with tracks “Suburbia” and “HEAD.” Devon’s first track, “Burn Down,” was a quintessential example of her intensely specific, slightly crass but ultimately relatable lyrics overlaid on top of danceable melodies.

In the best way, Devon has no filter. Her lyrics detail the idiosyncrasies of the early cusp of adulthood, from accidental self-sabotage to unnecessarily complicated situationships.

“This song is about falling in love with a married woman,” Devon said before transitioning into “Suburbia,” a track detailing a fruitless affair with a straight woman.

The real standout of her performance, though, was her bravado. Devon commanded the stage with her strong vocals on top of her undoubtable comfortability on stage, knowing when to skate around in circles in her Heelys and when to croon at her decapitated-babydoll embellished mic-stand.

Indie artist Devon Again turns Thalia Hall rainbow during her opening set.Julia Benkendorf / North By Northwestern

Shortly after, Latour took the stage for her opening song, “I am not the sun,” dressed eclectically and yet totally on-brand in her custom-made ‘001’ red baseball jersey (referencing the title track of her 2021 EP), bright teal biker shorts, fishnet tights and her long blonde hair tied up in two high pigtails.  

“This is my place of worship,” Latour sang in the chorus, echoing the spacey, hypnotic hums of the opening instrumentals.

Taking a beat to take it all in after the show’s first act, Latour paused and chatted with the crowd as if each and every one of them were her very best friends.  

“Can we make this my best show ever? Can we do that?” Latour asked playfully.

Maude is the type of artist who still can’t believe that this is happening to her. Despite booking huge events like Lollapalooza, All Things Go and Music Midtown, she is still amazed at the whirlwind turn her life took from studying philosophy at Columbia University to being signed to Warner Records. Her toothy grin breaking across her whole face, Latour frequently took multiple instances to simply look out at the crowd, in awe that hundreds of people came to celebrate her birthday with her.

A trademark of Latour’s live shows is her high energy; she is seemingly allergic to not enjoying her time on stage, and it's clear that performing live is her ultimate catharsis. While other artists might simply go through the motions, especially when playing old songs that might not reflect their current style, Latour does the opposite. With her jumpy pop rock-inspired tracks like “Furniture,” “Lunch” and “Block Your Number,” Latour alternated seamlessly from themes of heartbreak, mourning and burgeoning romance without missing a beat.

Latour steps into the popstar blueprint seamlessly, working the crowd with finesse while upholding her singular and steady vocal quality throughout an hour-long show of constant dancing and performing. Still, she seems less worried with fame and more concerned with connecting with her fans and making music that celebrates her unique perspective on life.

“I don’t wanna be famous but I wanna sing until I drown/ ‘cause when the music is loud/ And I’m in front of a crowd/ And I’m talking to God/ and I can tell that you’re proud,” Latour sings in “Furniture.”

After taking a quick water break, Latour switched mid-set to an acoustic section, letting her strong alto timbre shine on “Lovebomb” as the audience stilled to near silence, and opting to spontaneously play a ‘surprise song’ of sorts: “Trees,” an expansive and layered mid-tempo tune dedicated to her grandmother’s presence manifesting itself in her everyday surroundings. This was a standout of the show, as the audience’s participation in the bridge’s repeated line, “Everything is everything/ I see you in everything” filled the hall with a sort of optimism and introspection that was electric to be amidst.

The quiet did not last long, however, as Latour asked the crowd to do something “maybe a little crazy,” she prefaced – opening up the pit. Since, in my experience, the invitation to mosh is often reserved for rappers and rockers, I was curious to observe the energy shift of the crowd during this seemingly-chill, low-tempo song. Latour, grabbing the hands of crowd members, gracefully hopped off the stage and into the center of a small circle to sing “Minerals and Diamonds,” a hyper-pop influenced track about newfound love. While it was not so much a mosh pit as a respectful circle, with Latour mouthing “I love you” between lyrics, it appeared just as intimate and special for audience members.

One thing that people should know about Maude is that she speaks in a way that is reminiscent of a leader of a wellness retreat: slow, reflective and subdued. Often expressing her fascination with the vastness of the world around her or encouraging fans to live fully in the present moment, her music has a hopeful undertone regardless of the subject matter. While this might sound disingenuous or pandering coming from a different artist, it is clear to the audience that Latour truly views the world with a sense of childlike wonder, a refreshing diversion from the rampant cynicism and anxiety all too common in modern media. Near the end of the show, Latour asked the audience to repeat back a series of affirmations to her, including my personal favorite, “My voice matters!” which has taken on a new meta-sort of meaning while writing this review.

However, this is not to say she shies away from the hard subjects. One of the most impactful performances was that of “Reality Television,” a mid-tempo track about the relatable phenomenon of turning to mindless media to hide from intense anxieties.

It became clear throughout the night that Latour doesn’t hide from her emotions. In fact, she does the exact opposite. She wants to feel everything, no matter how messy.

Julia Benkendorf / North By Northwestern

Latour played two songs in her encore, the first of which being “Cyclone,” a 2022 single about the complicated emotions arising after a long-term friendship breakup. However, it was hearing her final track live, "One More Weekend,” that was truly a spiritual experience. For context, this is a song I found in 2021 when I first heard Latour’s music, and it’s been a playlist staple ever since (ask my roommate: she even called it “the quintessential college song”). “One More Weekend” is the kind of song that is perfect for a movie montage of all your best memories; jumping around to it live, it made me remember so many memories from the last few years as well as appreciate the beauty of truly living in the moment. Needless to say, my voice was totally gone the next morning.

If I had to sum up Latour’s performance in a few words, I would say it feels like a morning-after debrief with your best, most talkative and most transcendental friend. In short, Maude Latour seems to know that sometimes you just need to exhale, listen to some pop music and hug your best friend, all while surrounded by a crowd of people all feeling the same thing. What more could a girl ask for?