If you’re on TikTok, chances are you’ve heard one of Ashnikko’s songs at least once. A queen of Internet virality, Ashnikko has a repertoire of music that is brash, unapologetic, and laced with “fantasy and chaos.” Unsurprisingly, I simply had to see her perform her haunted alt-pop rap live on stage, and check that she was real.
So of course, I went to see Ashnikko at the Fillmore in Detroit this Thursday. 19-year-old YouTube songwriter Chloe Moriondo opened, playing a cute and catchy set that set up the main concert perfectly.
Ashnikko’s characteristic long electric blue locks (which are, apparently, all real) were the first thing I was shocked to witness live and in front of my eyes. Next, her down-to-a-science evil laugh—how does one contain so much childish glee and dark undertone into a single giggle?
My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed the entrancing Harajuku and Halloween-y graphics as stage backgrounds that were equally quirky in aesthetic as her music.
As for the crowd surrounding me, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people with colorful hair in the same room together. Even I came dressed in my fishnets and funkiest jewelry, knowing it was the perfect chance to do so: the weirdest was welcome, and even expected. Ashnikko’s style and music scream of protest against the norm, in many forms: the heteropatriarchy, fashion, sexual norms, “manners,” and the music industry. I was reminded, standing in the buzzing crowd, that music is oftentimes much more than just music. It has the ability to be a movement, a feeling, or a way to bring vastly different people together through something shared.
When Ashnikko’s most popular songs started playing, there were few people in the audience who weren’t singing or bopping along. Being at a concert collectively screaming to angry breakup beats like “Deal With It” and “L8r Boi” (inspired by Avril Lavingne’s 2002 “Sk8r Boi”) and slinky queer anthems like “Slumber Party” was cathartic, if nothing else. I left feeling energized, confident, and little bit different than before.