Tove Lo at Terminal 5 / Afterword
David Burke, Contributing Writer, Foreword / Afterword, October 22,2015
Tove Lo is awesome. She performed Wednesday night at for a sold out Terminal 5, the last show of the American leg of her Queen of the Clouds tour. Opening was Erik Hassle, the Swedish electro-pop vocalist and performer, who hails from the same prestigious grooming at Rytmus as Tove Lo and superstar Robyn.
I got to Terminal 5 a bit after 8pm, meandered around the lower level and sipped a cocktail. The room was less than half full, the VIP was all but empty, and I doubted the credibility of the sold out tag on the bill. I caught all of Hassle, who fits nicely into the vocalist side of the DJ-featuring-vocalist format that’s in such high demand. (Think Disclosure and Sam Smith, DJ Snake and Aluna George, Diplo and Justin Bieber, Avicii and whoever,) Erik Hassle is very much the ‘and’ in that format. He has a powerful and versatile voice, a broad range, and above all, an overwhelming nonchalance on stage that seems to compliment the synth-driven orchestrations and percussion behind him. Add to that his unmistakable curl-top hair and his general mock-sexy stage presence and you’ve got a promising new figure in the booming electro-pop world.
Tove Lo fans must see it the same, because they came running when Hassle’s set started. It was as if hundreds and hundreds of them had all been outside on a protracted smoke break; so rapid was the backfill of the room when the lights went down. By the set break, I was firmly packed in, in what was one of the more aggressive crowds I’ve ever been a part of. We listened to a strict diet of Michael Jackson as shot girls and beer guys tried to move through the crowd.
Tove Lo took the stage to a sea of cell phones. I’ve never seen the backs of so many iPhones at the same time in my life. She opened with Queen of the Clouds hit and personal favorite “Not on Drugs” with its huge synth-wash chorus, soaring vocals, the tender counterpoint to “Habits (Stay High),” “baby listen please, I’m not on drugs, I’’m not on drugs, I’m just in love…” Although I could barely see it, I felt it. It was loud; the sound was tangible and tight. She followed with “Got Love,” shifting immediately to the dancy-er side of the record to the glee of the seemingly thousands of Tove Lo devotees who sang along and jumped around, elated.
It was a great show. Tove Lo is a bona fide pop star, even if her star is still on the rise. She’s one hell of a performer: she’s sexy; her voice holds true in the live format, she even participates in the music. She frequently played an upright bass drum on Wednesday night, and she stepped behind a keyboard for and unaccompanied offering of “Paradise.”
On stage with Tove Lo were two drummers and a keyboardist / synth-commander who generated an incredible depth and breadth of sound. As Tove Lo’s general sonic structure tends to offer a soft verse, loud chorus construction I was thoroughly impressed with the live sound. Never was her voice lost or overpowered. Never was the band off point. Add this to the list of her legitimizing credentials.
But, Tove Lo is a pop star, and as such, what generated the most shrieking and applause from the rabid crowd below was her wardrobe adjustment between “This Time Around” and “Out of Mind.” Gone was the flight suit. On was a metal studded singlet with a copious offering of side boob, and a leather jacket. Bummer. Have I mentioned she’s good looking? And yet what else would you expect from the artist behind Queen of the Clouds? I felt like a blushing middle school boy with a crush and that was just fine.
Highlights for me, aside from the outfit reduction, and the dance number during “Crave” that reminded us once again of that reduction, were “Like Em Young,” the playful nod to age discrepancy in relationships, which drew an amazing amount of audience participation, and “Run On Love” the first of her two song encore. Tove Lo’s final song, both of the show and of her American tour, was, surprise, “Habits (Stay High).” The whole room, all three levels, sang along and carried the chorus. But the coolest thing about the whole show was when it was all over. The house lights came up, Tove Lo was gone, and a thousand plus kept singing a cappella “can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain, you’re gone and I gotta stay high, all the time, to keep you off my mind, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, high all the time, to keep you off my mind….”
Foreword / Afterword
October 23, 2015