Sunday, April 05, 2015


Image Courtesy of @colbymakeup on Instagram
A few weeks back I had the pleasure of seeing live in concert the artist I was most excited about discovering properly last year. Swedish pop starlet Tove Lo stopped by NYC's Highline Ballroom (a mid-size venue that feels like a theater with multi-level seating on its periphery that fits around 600-700 people) for a sold out show -- her first "headlining" show in New York.

While her Queen of the Clouds debut album was easily my favorite release of 2014, Tove is still a relative unknown to the US pop audience beyond her catchy single "Habits (Stay High)". You wouldn't know it at the Highline that night -- the show was at capacity, filled with a screaming fanbase that was gratuitous with their adoration. (One potentially drunk girl next to me: "OH MY GOSH, YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!")

The show opened with L.A.-based indie alt pop soloist Phoebe Ryan, a self-described Tove fan herself. She recently just unleashed the music video for her single, "Dead". The main highlight during her short set was her mashup offering of R.Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" (I honestly don't know why this is considered such a coverable classic to my generation but it really is).

Tove bounded on stage shortly thereafter with her hair put into mini braids on one side, weighted with white fabric, large beads, and feathers. She wore a black trench coat with her legs bare. Not long into the set, she ditched the jacket to reveal skin-tight, high-waisted shorts and a tank top, covered with a iridescent-but-sheer shirt overlay. For much of the performance, she was barefoot.

The name of her album was not a fluke -- for the entire performance, Tove looked like she was on top of the world. The energy in the room was palpable. Everyone knew all the words to even the more obscure album tracks and was singing along at full volume. Tove would consistently interact with the fans, grabbing hands and constantly dancing. 

Towards the end of her set, when single "Talking Body" was cued up, she encouraged the crowd to take off their clothes and throw them on stage (sorry girl, you lost me here). Quite a few fans acquiesced, however. One fan threw her bra, which Tove picked up and held to her chest and proceeded to take with her when she left the stage (to do what with, the world will never know).

All in all, she put on a great show and will clearly be a hit on the festival circuit. Much of the Queen of the Clouds album was ran through and even "older" songs like "Over" were also performed. Vocally, she sounded great but the performance was more about the energy in the room -- it vibrated with a kind of intensity that only comes from the sheer respectability of an artist. What makes Tove so exciting as a popstar is because her lyrics are real. They don't feel sugarcoated or fabricated. And the response from the crowd spoke volumes to just how effective that realism is.

For more on Tove's stage look and how to re-create it at home, check out my style blog entry here.

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