Icona Pop at Varsity Theater, 9/10/13
Photo by Tony Nelson
Icona Pop with K. Flay and Sirah
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
When you have the word "icon" in your band name and your album (the EP Iconic), you better be able to live up to the hype. A cross between the Spice Girls -- albeit more subtle -- and Abba, Swedish duo Icona Pop brought their electro pop/indie rock to Minneapolis, all packaged nicely with a sponsorship by local radio station KDWB and the cosmetic company TIGI.
An Icona Pop concert is a whole experience -- complete with hair makeovers from hairstylists in booths. Thus if you showed up to the concert with a less-than-stellar 'do, there was no need to worry. Take a seat, and the stylists will tease and spray your hair into something big enough to block the view of the person behind you.
Either it was the hairspray in the air or the fog machine, but Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo of Icona Pop took to a smoky stage as the room quickly filled with a crowd primarily there to see a group that rose to fame based on one song. The two dressed in matching outfits -- one in black and the other in white, in a way representing yin and yang -- and platform shoes. Hjelt and Jawo made it a dance party, opening with the throbbing "We Got the World."
Photo by Tony Nelson
So, what is compelling about two girls who sing electro pop music to backing tracks, sometimes going to their keyboards and guitar? Well, it could be that they are attractive. That's an easy reason. Another may be that the two are stellar at allowing their harmonies to intertwine and rise above the fluttering beats and drops. Their songs are extremely catchy, such as "Good for You" and the anthemic "Girlfriend," telling the age-old mantra that your [girl] friend will always have your back even when the world has turned on you.
Photos by Tony Nelson
For those unfamiliar with the band's music, the show seemed to drag, especially on the slower pieces like "Manners" and "On the Road Again," which is a little difficult to do, especially when a show is only 13 songs long due to the all-ages curfew at 10 p.m. Not a problem, though; with their sweeping vocals, Caroline and Aino ended their regular set with the epic party tune "Weekend" (which essentially was just music and the lyrics "Get ready ready ready for the weekend/Grab somebody/Go live it up") and "All Night."
With barely a breath between the regular set and the encore, you knew they weren't going to leave without playing their hit "I Love It." Remixed and cut up, the song left out much of the chorus and the bulk of the piece, but -- to quote the song -- the crowd didn't care, they still loved it.
Critic's bias: Not a stellar show for me; even though there were some catchy songs, I was a little bored at times. I guess they didn't live up to their "icon" title. It will be interesting to see how they do in a few years -- if they will still be around or be reduced to VH1's "I Love the New Millennium" with people saying, "Oh, yeah, remember that summer when you couldn't get away from that song?"
The crowd: Surprisingly, a lot of young girls and guys.
Overheard in the crowd: "I really wish they would care." -- about "I Love It"
Random notebook dump: Spotted in the audience was local hip-hop artist Astronautalis.
Random notebook dump 2: Keep an eye out for K. Flay in the coming years. She is amazing and a lot of fun to watch.
We Got the World
In the Stars
Then We Kiss
Good for You
On the Road Again
Just Another Night
I Love It
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