Concert Reviews

Last Night: Lykke Li at the Granada Theater

Lykke Li
Granada Theater
February 17, 2009

Better than: staying home and pretending that Lykke Li's Last Call with Carson Daly performance--which also aired last night--was actually filmed today.

It was a pretty chilling sight: the frail Lykke Li, dressed in black and set against a black backdrop in an otherwise dark theater; adorned with various spotlights as she emoted out the opening lines to her massive blog hit, "Dance, Dance, Dance".

Every eye in the almost-uncomfortably crowded Granada Theater's audience seemed transfixed by the Swedish songstresses' presence, focusing on her every move and hanging on her every note as she stood alone, the sole focal point onstage.

And then, quite calmly, Li's drummer appeared by her side, banging out a tribal beat on a standalone snare, matching each of the singer's deliberate movements. Soon, his cadence was joined by a bass line, and then by some keys, as two more members flanked Li's sides. The crowd, at first almost dazed by the set's bare opening, loosened into a groove, at once actively encouraging the show and passively demonstrating its curiosity.

After four more songs, though, a stretch in which Li played seeming each and every one of her most popular Internet hits, the surprisingly cutesy performer nipped all potential unfamilarity and doubt in the bud--well before the audience had a chance to develop such thoughts.

"I know it's early," Li cooed to her loyal scenester minions, acknowledging her set's 9:30 p.m. start time, "but do you want to have a Swedish techno party with me?"

The crowd cheered, as if there were any doubt. And for the remaining half-hour or so of her set, Li performed seemingly whatever she chose--a few Swedish pop songs, some other vaguely familiar dance tracks--as her band ducked on and off stage and its frontwoman toyed with various instruments on her own (a xylophone bit, a megaphone, a kazoo, the snare drum, a cymbal). The crowd, wistfully ignorant, danced along at the singer's demand, even at once point engaging in a singalong--in French.

And before the audience, now proven loyal to Li, had the chance to lose interest, Li brought her set to a close--but not without returning moments later, much to her fans' delight, for a deserved two-song encore.

"I want to do something different for you tonight," Li announced before she and her band launched into the final song of their set.

When it became obvious to the crowd that she was covering A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It?--as she had with Q-Tip at the MTVu Woodies Awards last year--the reaction implied a genuine surprise and excitement.

'Twas the sound of scensters showcasing their stamp of approval.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I went into this show with an open mind, familiar with Li from her Internet hype and popular blogosphere hits, and interested by what I'd heard. Actually, I think that made me, for the most part, the pretty average attendee to this show. Me, personally? I left impressed by Li's stage presence and amazed at how willingly the crowd succumbed itself to her.

Random Note: I saw something I'd never seen at a Granada show--or damn near any show I've been to in a long, long time--at last night's gig: home-made signs held up in the crowd. Maybe 20 yards from the stage, two fans intermittently raised signs toward the singer. "I can't get Lykke out of my head!" one read. The other was in Swedish. 

By The Way: Hal Samples was patroling the floor last night, taking pictures of the concert for a slideshow we'll have posted later today. 

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman