Saturday, August 07, 2010

Like Robyn Said, I Dance On My Own.

It's hard to descibe how I feel after seeing live a performer I've enjoyed for 14 years, four of them spent as an ardent fan. However, I shall attempt to pull my through the malay haze that has clouded my ever-pop-loving brain post-Thursday's final tour stop of the All Hearts Tour, featuring Far East Movement, Dan Black, Kelis and, the one, the only, Robyn. And -- wonders don't cease, fam -- I do have pictures to share. Some may be blurry. Some feature more (taller) people than popstar. But pictures do exist. And that is a major accomplishment in terms of my New York City concert-going bragging rights.

Where exactly should I begin? Click the cut for more.

The show took place at Webster Hall, a kind of artsy, borderline commercial-esque kind of venue just off of Union Square in Manhattan. It's much bigger than the venue in Brooklyn where I saw Marina & The Diamonds a few months back, slightly bigger than Santos in SoHo where I saw Dragonette late last year, but slightly smaller than Irving Plaza where I saw Hollywood Undead during my internship in 2009. It's a cross between a clubby kind of venue and a true gig -- the stage is large and commanding, and there's a formidable amount of room to swarm as "first row" (everything's general admission, standing room only). There's also a balcony level where every seat is good, reserved I'm guessing for "VIPS" (meaning people who are willing to pay more than bare minimum and industry in other words, not me...yet), and a prominent bar area in case you're interested in a $12 Rum and Coke in a plastic cup that contains more ice than alcohol.

We arrived right around 6PM under the notion that the party started then -- and apparently it did. Far East Movement took the stage at that unbelievably early hour, and for some annoying reason, people who happened upon Webster Hall at 6:12PM, like myself and my Plus One, were told to kindly wait outside until the first act finishes. We did make it inside to hear the final half of the group's first single "Like A G6", as well as a song that features Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic (who wasn't present).

Far East Movement are Robyn's labelmates at Cherry Tree Records, and a four-piece electro-rap-DJ-hybrid group along the lines of post-Elephunk Black Eyed Peas (and not just in sound -- one of their members looks quite striking like Taboo, and I mean that in a loving way). Although some of their set was a bit cheesy in sound (one of the songs we heard was mixed with Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl), their energy was palpable and they seemed very at home onstage. They had some kind of surrealist twinge to their set and performance ideas, as one member danced around dressed in a giant monkey head during one song, and when signing off, Taboo-alike grabbed a light-up astronaut helmet and put it on for no real reason at all.

Far East Movement (that's Taboo-Alike on the picture to the left, on the far left; and a rather random but amusing appearance of a monkey), All Hearts Tour 2010.

Shortly thereafterward came Dan Black, whom I quite liked after "Symphonies" was released to the US a few months back as a Free iTunes Download of the Week. The song samples Rihanna's "Umbrella" backbeat, and is a fun dancey cut along the lines of Owl City or Lights with a touch more sass. 

I have to say I was a little dissapointed in him. His set included a bass/rhythm guitarist and a electric guitarist, as well as himself on mic with a computer set up and a synth machine, looking a bit like Adam Levine of  Maroon 5 mixed with Freddy Mercury of Queen, with a touch of Mika in warpaint for good measure, gesticlating widly like he thought he was Mick Jagger. He has a very strange cadance to his performing, and looked throughout like he was high on some kind of choice drug. I also found it difficult to engage in his vocals, as much of it was drowned out by the heavy synth -- not like I was missing too much though, as much of it was exaggerated caterwauling. I'm still a fan of "Symphonies", and that was the real highlight of the set. 

To be honest, Far East Movement had a much smaller crowd to play with and had NYC much more captivated than Black, who left the majority scratching their head. He left with a rather poetic, "Having a f*cking spendifierous evening." Well, then.

Dan Black (see right) and his bass guitarist (left) who, strangely enough, spent more time rocking out and punching the air than actually playing notes.

After waiting for what felt like ions and having the set tweaked and retweaked and retweaked again, with blast after blast of fresh smoke, despite the stage minimally featuring a backdrop featuring a human heart, and a few standalone cylindrical light jobs, two DJ booths and a drum kit in the center, Kelis finally took center stage around 8pm. She was dressed in a shiny, tight, blue bodysuit that looked like it was made of lame, looking fresh and as fierce as ever, complete with a black  Egyptian-esque wig featuring lots of silver sparkles. Oh yeah, and her micstand lit up.

It's a real shame so many people categorize her as in the "rap" category, or worse, thanks to "Milkshake", the one hit wonder/pop culture lamesauce category. Girlfriend can sing, and she really won the crowd over with her intensity, not to mention her surprisingly solid vocals.

My pictures don't do this woman justice. She is ferosh in every way definable.

She truly has transformered herself into a discoteque queen, and the crowd (and by crowd, I mean diminutive little girls like me, hipsters and lots and lots of gay boys) were loving her. She opened with a fierce take on "Emancipate" that literally shook Webster Hall. "Scream" was really well received, as was "4th of July (Fireworks)". Flesh Tone was the heart and soul of the set (hence the backdrop), and considering the fact that I wasn't too familiar with any of her other catalogue, this suited me nicely.

She did nod to some of her older material by way of an unexpected mashup of "Milkshake" with Madonna's "Holiday" that I kind of want (read: need) to have an MP3 version of. Apparently she's been touting this version for awhile now, so I'm hoping some remix of it will come out on recorded form, and if it exists, please help a homegirl out and direct me in the right direction. Click here for a video of the version I saw taken live from apparently front row. She did perform a remix of "Trick Me" and "Lil Star", but there was no sign of the two other back material songs I knew, which were "Bossy" and "Caught Out There". The lack of the latter was the biggest letdown in my book since I was robbed of my chance to scream "I hate. You so much right NOW" at the top of my lungs. Sigh.

After another literally groundshaking performance with "Acapella" seriously shaking the walls and with everyone screaming the chorus at the top of their lungs, Kelis thanked us all and walked out. No encore. I got over this quickly as before I knew it, the woman we'd all paid to see walked out.

Looking ever the pixie with her shock of white blonde hair, and dressed in high-waisted white leggings with a rose and thorn print on them, black mid-drift top with embroidered circles around her tatas and a long black robe that was quickly shed (later she also included a black hat to tuck her hair into), from the minute Robyn walked on that stage, all eyes and ears were on her. The majority of her material was straddled between Robyn (one of the most epically amazing pop albums from beginning to end of all time, people) and Body Talk, Part 1. There were no "Show Me Love"s or "Do You Really Want Me"s, sadly. Not complaining, just nostaglic.

Girlfriend was go go go from minute 1, entering amidst a slightly ominous sounding trancy intro seguing into "Fembots". The crowd really dug her -- it was very clear very fast who everyone was truly there to see, singing along furiously and loudly to every song. A major highlight was "Dancing On My Own", which included the hand gestures and spinning you see in the video (and was artfully acted out  by some boys on the risers behind me much to everyone's awe and amusement). "Cobrastyle" was a lot of fun, and involved a lot of jumping.

I'm still not too big on "Don't F*cking Tell Me What To Do" but it was one of the chief promotional slogans of the tour, as much of her merch featured the song's title or "My ____ is killing me". During the song, Robyn didn't sing but just danced along, keeping the momentum up whilst coyly eating a banana and impishly smirking and winking at the crowd. She kept reminding me of Mary Martin as Peter Pan, always smirking, always adorable, but totally badass and striking in everyway. She just can't stand still -- she's always jumping, spinning, twirling, stamping, grinning and singing her heart out.

She closed her set with an incredible remix of "Be Mine!", before returning for an encore of "Dream On" and the indelible "With Every Heartbeat". As I told a friend recently, I would have paid the $25 admission price just to hear that song alone, over and over on repeat.

It's a bit difficult to see but in that last pinkish picture to the right, that's Robyn brandishing a Banana and telling us "Don't F*cking Tell Me What To Do."

Needless to say, her just over an hour set ended in a blink. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to stay in that glittery electro hype festival, admist so many people who were just like me -- who got it. It was truly an incredible moment, and words cannot even begin to express the high I felt upon hearing that rainshower of synth in "With Every Heartbeat".

As the show ended, and we filed to the exits, the awareness of how achingly tired my poor feet were after standing for five some hours in stiletto heels (Stilettos on Broken Bottles, Spinning Around in Circles), not to mention how flooded the sole exit became with people, the spell was quickly broken. If one person fell, it would be like a Domino Effect, and the pure sweat that clung to my skin (and short sparkly black sequin dress) felt filmy. But I had seen Robyn -- an idol of mine in this pop music landscape! Amazing! Upon reaching breathing room and fresh air, I quickly realized that Hot Yoga has got nothin' on a psyched sold-out crowd at Webster Hall to see Sweden's reigning Princess of Pop Electro.

And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Incredible. In. Every. Way.

For another and more detailed analysis of Robyn's set, I warmly encourage you to check out the lovely XO and his Middle Eight.


rcLoy said...

I would love to hear DOMO and WEH live, she sound so much fun!!

Myfizzypop said...

I'm fast liking Robyn mainly for her Part 2 collection. I've always thought she was accomplished singer/songwriter but something left me cold. I'm starting to warm up!

Aaron said...

Great to hear you enjoyed it! - And I'd have LOVED to have been there! - And seriously, Light Up Mic Stand = MASSIVELY FIERCE!

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