Though she’s been cranking out hits since ’97, only recently has Swedish pop star Robyn been pushed out from the periphery of American attention and into the spotlight she emphatically deserves. Let’s recall just a few months ago when many Robyn-adoring Minneapolitans (me included) were in tears over the impossibility of scoring last minute tix to her sold-out Fine Line show. Well, now that the universe has been set straight I’d like to issue a formal and wholehearted thank you to Queen Sylvia, King Carl XVI and Konichiwa Records for granting Twin Cities dwellers a second chance (and a more appropriate venue) to experience the live glory of their country’s prized pop “Fembot.”
Not unlike her futuristic stage setup would suggest, it’s quite likely that Robyn isn’t a modern Swedish artist at all, but a Swedish artist from the year 3000 sent back to nobly revamp the current state of universal pop-music. From her initial entrance to the stage, a tense robotic countdown complete with flashing metallic windmills and Technicolor fog, it was wholly apparent that the impending performance was going to be epic. This assumption was correct. Opening with “Time Machine,” (coincidence?) the crowd was immediately overcome with a tireless energy that would last throughout the triple encore.
It must be noted that the magic of Robyn’s performance extended far beyond the hit-power of her musical repertoire. Yeah, the audience went wild the instant the opening measures of singles like “Dancing On My Own” or “Hang With Me” became recognizable but really, it was her electric, intoxicating (for real, one beer and zero MDMA) stage presence that put this show on the same caliber of a not-sober Flaming Lips gig. Not only is the Scandinavian ball of fury painfully adorable (who else could rock that haircut?), but she’s also got some serious pipes and even more serious stamina. She gave the audience exactly what they wanted, playing nearly the entirety of her latest LP “Body Talk” but also throwing in earlier explosive hits like “The Girl and the Robot” from Röyksopp’s “Junior” and “Konichiwa Bitches” from her 2005 self-titled album.
The enthusiasm of the crowd made for the show that wouldn’t end. And our Swedish sweetheart, clearly exhausted from almost two hours of nonstop dance-fueled intensity, obliged us, reappearing not once, not twice, but three times to gift Minneapolis with more stage time which, in a brief moment of pure present-meets-past bliss, included an ABBA cover. You’d think someone as internationally renowned (and as visibly tired) as Robyn might call it quits after say, the first encore, but the look on her face was one of true appreciation. Her spirited reactions to the concert-goers fostered a belief that maybe we really were the proclaimed “best audience on the tour so far.”
Experiencing a performance such as Robyn’s at First Ave last night seriously causes one to reevaluate the structure of mainstream pop shows in America. With inherent skill, and undying commitment to her craft and audience, Robyn managed to channel the flash and animation of seeing Lady Gaga to the intimate setting of First Ave. She doesn’t need to charge a million dollars for some superfluous stadium fanfare (take note, Bono.) It’s clearly about the music for Robyn and that’s the way it should be.