“Swedish people are so cool!” shouted 21-year-old fan Sena Serna over the loud music. “She exudes coolness!”
Such was the attitude of the crowd gathered at the Glass House on Feb. 17 to catch Swedish pop star Lykke Li on her U.S. tour for the debut 2008 album “Youth Novels.”
Timotej Zachrisson, known as Lykke Li
, has quickly risen to iconic status both in Sweden and the U.S. with the release of her album, her live YouTube performances and her collaborations with renowned artists such as Bon Iver, Shout Out Louds, Santogold, and Kanye West.
Lykke Li seamlessly blends pop, hip-hop, dance, groovy jazz, and soulful R&B, into her own conglomerate style, with her catchy lyrics adding a girlish charm complementary to her vocals.
The show opened with Swedish husband-wife duo Wildbirds and Peacedrums, who mixed haunting drumbeats with trilly and soulful vocals. Spectators watched, amazed at front-girl Mariam Wallentin’s voice, while others bounced along with her. Toward the end of their set, Wallentin approached the edge of the stage, mic-less, crooning a sorrowful, acapella song. The ballad then broke into a drum medley led by lanky drum artist Andreas Werliin, soon joined by Wallentin banging on cymbals with her glittery drumsticks.
Wildbirds and Peacedrums, their name epitomizing of their sound, ended their set with a literal bang of the drums, Wallentin throwing her drumsticks to the ground.
After a brief set change, the musical intro to “Melodies & Desires,” the first song on the album, repeated overhead while the crowd looked around in anticipation for Lykke Li’s appearance. Finally, Li strutted on stage, accompanied by three scruffy band-mates in suit coats.
Much to the audience’s satisfaction, she opened her set with “Dance. Dance. Dance.” Her little voice sang, while she danced and shook the chains and bells around her neck, only stopping to hum a melody on her kazoo.
Next, the idolizing crowd pushed forward during the groovy “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” dancing and singing along. Li’s stage presence was commanding, with the audience responding to the line, “Yeah I know your hands will clap,” as she moved to the beat, flipping her long ponytail and playing with her wavy taffeta scarf.
She was a dramatic performer, using expressive hand motions during songs like “Hanging High” and “Little Bit,” her intense brow peering over the mic to sing the line, “I would give anything to have you as my man.”
“We’re gonna have a Swedish techno party,” Li said at the beginning of the heated electro anthem “Complaint Department,” resulting in a crowd-wide dance party led by Miss Li, using the whole stage as her personal dance floor.
Just when Li could not be anymore impressive, she performed her rendition of Kings of Leon’s “Knocked Up,” her body winding and swaying in front of the astonished audience.
After covering Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” with which she proved that a Swede can rap, Li ended her set with “Breaking It Up” complemented by a disco ball over the bopping crowd.
She made her exit holding a megaphone high above her head. The crowd screamed for an encore and she returned, tossing water on the crowd saying, “You seem a bit tired.” She then “lullabied” a couple bars of “Tears on My Pillow,” leading into the touching song “Tonight,” which matches the theme of youthful innocence in her album “Youth Novels.”
“I hate to leave you all unsatisfied,” Li said at the conclusion of the song. “I’m going to sing a song we can all sing along to.”
She officially ended the show covering A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” with the audience echoing back “Yes you can!”
As her exit music (which sounded like an old spiritual) played, the lights went up over the venue full of fans amazed by her mesmerizing performance.
“Her music is really different,” said Hannah Harris, a freshman at Pasedena City College. “She’s unique and we really like her style. I’ve never heard anyone like her.”
- Sarah Sunderman