Live Review: Lykke Li @ Black Cat, October 19

My love for Lykke Li, the Swedish chanteuse, really had grown into a bit of an inside joke between some fellow writer friends and me lately. Sure, her video for “Little Bit” is downright addictive, and I have no doubt that if I could do whatever drugs she apparently is taking, my life would be that much better. Her debut album, Youth Novels, has some of the best pop I’ve heard this year, but, really, is she worth all the blogosphere love she’s been receiving? I am here to tell you that yes, she is. Her performance at the Black Cat was one of the best shows period I’ve seen there this year (granted, I’ve only seen about a half dozen there this year, but still).

I went with my kid brother and told him beforehand I had no idea what to expect. Sure, we bloggers really seem to dig her, but I was unaware of her blowing up on the radio or anything like that. Armed with that virtually worthless knowledge, I was pretty blown away when I got to the Cat around 9 pm, and the line was snaking to damn near the end of the block. Good Lord and Butter, thought I, this girl is doing a pretty good job getting the word out about herself these days.

I caught the last couple of songs by the opener, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, who strangely enough was traveling under the moniker The Family Robinson. Now, Miles’ debut single, “Buriedfed,” is one of the best damn singles I’ve heard this year, bar none. Sadly, his live performance leaves a bit more to be desired. While the band had a pretty good groove going, MBAR gave perhaps the most garbled vocal performance I’ve ever heard. Thinking it was perhaps a mic problem, I was even more surprised when the headliner took the stage and was as clear as a bell. Keep in mind, Ms. Li is from Sweden. Still, his eponymous CD is too good to just throw him by the wayside, so I’m going to assume I just saw him on an off night.

Ms. Li took the stage just around 10:15 and put on a relatively short show, clocking in at just under an hour. That being said, what an hour it was. She took to the stage with the instrumental portion of “Melodies & Desires” playing before launching into “Dance Dance Dance.” Halfway through the latter song, she broke into a full fledged drum freak out that made me question whether or not my marriage was worth it or if I should just start a Lykke Li cult then and there. Having only one album to her name (“I am a debut artist,” she informed the crowd at one point), she pretty much played all of Youth Novels with a couple of cover tunes. For those of you in the know, Lykke rocked out the old skool Fly Girl look, complete with the phat dookie gold chains. Amongst those gold chains was one gold plated (OK, probably painted) toy trumpet that made it out to the delight of the crowd.

So what made the show so downright fiery? While LL probably needs to work on a few portions of her act (every song does not have to end with a slowed down chanting of the chorus), she’s got personality to spare. She’s a spitfire under the stage lights, master of that clunky white girl dancing that made junior high proms such a wonderful thing. And let’s be honest, an accent like hers is bound to delight even the most tone deaf of admirers.

The highlight of the evening quite probably was the final song of the encore, an impassioned version of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” Hell, that one alone probably was worth the price of admission. It was during this song that she implored the audience to vote for Obama, which really seemed to piss off some guy next me. Yes, he had a point that as a Swede, she didn’t have anything to do with our electoral process, but whatever.

I took a bunch of pictures, but not a damn one came out well. I probably should have tested the camera before using it for the first time, but what can you do? To the guy in front of me who probably wondered why I took that completely unnecessary picture of your ass, yeah, sorry about that dude. I promise you, I was trying to turn it off, not snap a shot of your dumpster. If you had been the guy in the “Little Bit” video, maybe, but you weren’t, so there you go.

mp3: Can I Kick It? (live)

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