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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 22
Lykke Li enraptures Seattle
Arts & Entertainment
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Lykke Li enraptures Seattle

by Rahul K. Gairola - SGN Contributing Writer

Lykke Li
May 26
The Showbox Market


Arguably the hottest act to come from Sweden since Euro-pop diva Robyn, Lykke Li has the spellbinding aura of a grown-up version of Hermione Granger, the fictional female sidekick of Harry Potter. Her dramatic appearance at The Showbox Market last weekend cast her as a sorceress of sounds who is adept at orchestrating a number of instruments and vocals with relatively little visual pomp and gloss.

A barren, smoky stage lit by flickering strobe lights and screeching cymbals was the backdrop that introduced Li to her Seattle fan base. Black strips of muslin vertically punctuated the stage and swayed to and fro between clouds of smoke. As if summoned by the noise and mist, Li and her band suddenly appeared onstage. Clad in black and moving stealthily with the wisps of smoke, they dove into a haunting rendition of 'Jerome,' the ninth track off Li's critically acclaimed sophomore album, 2011's Wounded Rhymes.

Li's persona is as surreal as her stage setup. She wore short black hot pants, black fishnets, and what looked like a flowing black kimono/cape with her hair oiled and pulled back into a tight bun. She began swaying back and forth as she sang, at times wrapping her body into the suspended muslin strip, and then spinning out of it with her limbs carried by the drifting smoke. Wielding a drumstick in hand like a wand, she began waving it toward the audience with grand swoops, and then banged it against a set of cymbals during the chorus of 'I'm Good, I'm Gone.'

A swirl of cymbals, tambourines, and guitars characterized 'Sadness is a Blessing,' which Li accented with her trademark muffled vocals. 'This is a cover song I am going to do because I get so tired of myself,' she exclaimed, and performed a rendition of Wendy Rene's 'After Laughter Comes Tears.' Whilst twirling around in the black cloth, the band struck up the chords of 'I Follow Rivers,' which was particularly memorable due to the heavy use of the steel drum and flickering pink and peach colored lights.

By this point in the show, the darkish music and atmosphere seemed a bit much. As if to remedy this dilemma, Li struck up a high-power version of 'Dance Dance Dance.' After 'I Know Places,' another new song, Li faced the audience and used her drumstick to 'orchestrate' the crowd as a conductor does. Halfway into an upbeat version of her debut single 'Little Bit,' Li shouted, 'For you, Seattle!,' and kept up the high energy by pumping out 'Possibility' against throbbing strobe and red lights as the crowd danced.

Li then picked up a megaphone and treated the crowd to an explosive version of 'Get Some,' which was arguably the best number of the night. This is because the muffled vocals seemed to fit Li's frenetic, jerky dancing and her band's crazed jamming. Keeping up her possessed movements, Li admitted, 'I never went to high school, but I used to play in high school.'

She and her band ended the night with 'Unrequited Love,' an introspective hymn that closed the show with the somber atmosphere it began with. Perhaps this is not so bad given the spectacular performance that preceded Li's mystical stage persona. Though the vocals could have been a bit more resolute (which a number of folks near me also remarked about), Li's performance was an ideal way to experience the rapture - at least musically.

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