Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

02/28/2020

Tove Lo at Roseland Theater on 02/25/20 Photos and Review

Photos by Liana Kramer / Story by Matt Carter // With a fierce dedication to her performance, movie star good looks, and a general positivity and confidence, Lo ensured that no one went away from the Roseland unhappy. 

Scandinavian pop singers postponing tour dates, unfortunately, is becoming not uncommon in Portland. Norway's Aurora had to cancel the day of in 2016 and didn't play again in Portland for two years. And in 2017, Denmark's MØ pushed back a tour date at Wonder Ballroom to six months. But what is far less common is seeing one of these big pop names brave through a show like a trooper – whether it’s their body or schedule working against them. Tuesday's show at Roseland, packed with singers from both Finland and Sweden, was akin to witnessing the literal definition of the phrase: “The show must go on.”

Originally booked to play at Mississippi Studios in 2018, Alma is yet another songstress of the Nordic variety who unfortunately had to cancel her show in the past. Making her Portland debut as the opener for Tove Lo – and to a sold-out crowd no less – is quite the upgrade. Kicking off with the title track to her forthcoming album Have U Seen Her?, Alma's trademark neon hair was aglow as she seamlessly transitioned between raps and belts with her husky voice. While the tour is playfully titled Sunshine Kitty, it could have easily been renamed the BFF tour, with Alma and Tove Lo clearly cut from the same cloth.

Alma performed “Worst Behavior,” which features Tove Lo and the impassioned hook, “You better stay home tonight.” By the end of her set, with the crowd obviously won over, those lyrics were not a concept that applied to seeing Alma live. If you weren't a fan of her edgy pop and unique fashion sense when you walked in, chances were good you left a new convert.

As lights transitioned to reveal Tove Lo, it was her rhinestone-studded foot brace that took center stage. Yet quickly, it proved no challenge to her dance-heavy act. Lo's initial swaying hips and grinds during “Glad He's Gone” sent the crowd into an uproar, subsiding only after a full acclimation to the performer’s suggestive nature. It wasn’t until after her third song, “Cool Girl,” that Lo decided to address the orthopedic accessory on her left foot, the result of a fractured ankle during a recent NY gig. “My foot is broken but my spirit is not,” she jokingly assured the crowd, who never seemed to signal the performance was suffering. The doctor who cleared her for tour would, no doubt, have another take on the night if they could see Lo barely nursing her foot while in action.

Lo likely could have kept the energy on her own, but during “Influence” she introduced a male dancer who came close to stealing the show. With his dazzling displays of kneeling sweeps and whirling arms he sent the audience into overdrive. His agile steps went on for a few more songs, most noteably to the house beat of “Jacques,” which had the whole balcony on its feet. “Talking Body” then took the night to another level as Lo flashed her breasts to the audience, seeming to one-up any male singer who has ever ripped his shirt off mid-performance.

And what may appear like a daredevil move from Lo is really an act of body positivity from a woman with sex appeal that knows no bounds. It only helps that she comes from a country that ranks consistently as one of the most gender equal in the world. From Lo's unapologetic lyrics to her provocative stage presence, it’s clear she’s the initiator who calls the shots in every encounter. Never reluctant to be a sex positive figure or play sexpot, Lo remains a force in the industry that serves to combat the saturation of music written by men with mounting libidos.

“I feel really powerful, yet really humble and vulnerable doing this,” are words you might assume describe the experience of exposing oneself. But at the Roseland, Lo was simply referring to a song she’d have to perform without her band. It’s a nod to priorities that are more aligned with entertainment than worrying about how nudity may offend. Quite frankly, this is the kind of pop star we need in our world right now. Coincidentally, the song she performed before going solo on the piano was entitled “Disco Tits.”

With a fierce dedication to her performance, movie star good looks, and a general positivity and confidence, Lo ensured that no one went away from the Roseland unhappy. Introducing us to stylized medical aids while out-performing the competition is all in a day's work for Lo. And in-between our constant blushing, we're grateful to be a part of it.

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