Sunday, February 20, 2011
Concert review: Robyn at South Side Music Hall in Dallas (February 18)
Swedish synth-pop singer draws sold-out crowd.
DALLAS Swedish synth pop singer Robyn suffers a bit of an underdog reputation, so it was a nice surprise to see her draw a sold-out crowd at South Side Music Hall on Friday where she headlined a show with opening acts Diamond Rings and Natalia Kills.
The crowd was a colorful one, literally. If you were a club goer, if you were gay, if you were a female with radically short hair, if you had an appreciation for fashion, if you liked Swedish pop, or if you simply liked pop that differed from the usual throwaway stuff in that it had heart and soul, then you were there.
Robyn, who is 31, has had two lives in the U.S. Her first wave came in 1997, when she was only 16 and her CD Robyn Is Here came out. It scored two memorable top 10 songs: "Do You Know (What It Takes)" and "Show Me Love," both of which seemed mature beyond her years. She has a powerful voice, but with a unique, coy little treble that gives her a cute, quintessentially youthful sound.
Since 1997, she remained a star in Europe, but re-emerged in the U.S. only in the past year, with a CD called Body Talk. Her single, "Dancing On My Own" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording (Rihanna won).
This American tour began in late January and is hitting big halls such as the Music Hall (formerly Gilley's), which holds about 1,800 to 2,000 people. The opportunity to see someone like Robyn, who usually plays arenas, on a smaller stage guarantees you're going to be treated to a show with lots of showmanship and polish. Backed by an unusual ensemble of two keyboardists and two drummers, she exhibited tremendous energy, spinning and dancing as she sang, and her voice sounded powerful and clear.
Her genre is dance pop a la Madonna or Katy Perry (with whom Robyn will share some tour dates later in 2011); but her persona exuded warmth and a sweet-natured generosity of spirit that showered down on the crowd like good-karma fairy dust. Audience members danced and pogo'ed, pointing their fingers in the air. One guy came up and asked, "Are you writing a story? Just say that I love Robyn, OK?"
She wore a set of layered tank tops and unique leggings topped with a jeans peplum that looked like a newfangled workout outfit. Shaking her trademark platinum pixie hair, she charged through a smartly paced set, bouncing from uptempo tracks like "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do" to prettier songs like "Indestructible," which featured lush synthesizer solos.
"We Dance To The Beat" was a classic dance track that took the audience on an up-and-down journey. It began sparsely, with just a few sonic elements: a steady drum beat, a few tinkling notes, and Robyn's vocals, "we dance to the beat," but electronically treated to create a robotic sound. The stage went red, and the music unfurled a series of pauses and swells and explosive climaxes that ignited the crowd, who pumped their fists, and together, jumped to the beat.
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