I didn’t quite know what to expect from a Lykke Li performance. I’ve exhausted the play button on my iPod plenty listening to her folk-y croons while riding the bus uptown after a hectic workday. Her music mellows me.
So imagine my surprise when she came on stage at New York City’s Webster Hall and commanded such presence and had such insane energy and artistic freedom, that I was left all pumped up and wanting more.
A frantic light show with willowing black drapes created a dramatic entrance for the Swedish pop star, who made her appearance all clad in black.
With a drumstick in hand and dancing on stage like a sorcerer casting a spell on the audience, I couldn’t take my eyes off the way she moved, interpreting the music with her body language. She came alive. Her voice in one word? Hypnotizing. Her music? All over the place — but in a fresh way.
She successfully managed to blend hip-hop beats with some electropop, topped with a bit of blues.
What I liked most about Li’s performance was how she incorporated just the right amount of instrumentation. Drums, feet stomps, tribal beats, and tambourines (as a former tambourine player in my elementary school choir, I grew a little more giddy when it made a cameo) breathed an extra jolt of electricity into the music without completely drowning it, making it seem effortless.
When she dove into songs like “Sadness is a Blessing,” “Love out of Lust,” and “Unrequited Love” (one of her encore surprises) — three killer hits from her second album with a well defined, groovy 60’s beat, she came across as vulnerable about love yet brazen.
She has the ability to transform her sugary voice into almost a lullaby in songs like “I Know Places.”
When she sang “I Follow Rivers,” one of my personal favorites, I fell into a trance with delirious bursts of exhilaration.
Hearing her sing “Little Bit” with all the minimalistic elements on stage, was the highlight of the night for me. It’s melodious and trippy.
As an added bonus, Li performed “Until We Bleed,” which I didn’t expect, but was so glad to hear it because I love the words and it’s so ethereal when she sings, “I need you, to need me,”
Li closed her set with “Get Some.” Just like on the record, Li’s sexual confidence and in-your-face attitude resonated through the venue and the fans were fiercely singing along, getting just as agro and dominating.
“Get Some” is another favorite of mine and the distinction between her bold voice in this song when she yells, “I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some!” and her childish ring in “I Follow Rivers” is absolutely brilliant and reflects the creative talent Li is.
It sounds clichéd, but she left the room wanting more. Eager to please her loyal fans, Li came back out to perform an encore.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Li busted out with “Possibility.” I would venture to say that this song really put Lykke Li on the map in the U.S. You see, Li wrote “Possibility” for the “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” soundtrack. And appropriately enough, “Possibility” captures the poignant scene in the film where Bella is devastatingly heartbroken because Edward has left her. It perfectly captures the moment of every teenage girl’s anguish, and yet, for an artist, it is a dream to be featured in a franchise where everything it touches turns to gold. The exposure was deserving.
Li knows how to put on a performance in every sense of the word. At Webster Hall, she pulled off the impossible — I walked away with a feeling of being melancholy yet happy.