Friday, June 3, 2011

Concert Crone Review: Lykke Li

The Concert Crone operates in a musical netherworld: too old for bouncers to ask her for ID, too young to give up the thrill of buying tickets using the secret presale code. In service to the mid-life music fans of the world, the Crone braves the Bay Area music scene and answers the question: Worth Hiring the Sitter?

The Band: Lykke Li, Monday May 31 2011. Indie darling Lykke (real name: Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson, which would look terrible on a concert t-shirt,) may be the most under appreciated Swedish export since lingonberry jam. Sheer logic says that every teenage girl in America should love her: she contributed a song to the Twilight soundtrack, and Tina Cohen-Chang covered one of her tunes on the "Glee" episode called "A Night of Neglect." But she's nowhere close to mainstream. Tell people you are going to hear Lykke Li and they will nod and smile, then wonder what the hell you just said.

The Venue: The Regency Ballroom in SanFrancisco, which looks like a dance hall from the 1910s, which is what it is. The Crone tried not to think about earthquake retrofitting during the show. Also somewhat nostalgic was the ladies' room, which had three seats and a line that was infinity miles long. Best to bring a Stadium Gal, or leave your beverages until after the show.

The Company: Maria, the Crone's best friend since the first day of college who is of Swedish descent and quick to support anything that comes from the mother country, including Ikea's pressboard furniture. In fact upon hearing that the Crone got tickets for the show, her immediate reaction was: "Maybe this will be like that Flintstones episode where the Swedish band rents Fred and Wilma's house!" Yes, Maria, it will probably be just like that. Have another meatball.

The Crowd: Chicks dig Lykke Li. Asian chicks, gay chicks, chicks with Cleopatra eye makeup and Olivia Newton John headbands, chicks so young they look newly hatched, and chicks leading good-natured smiling boyfriends behind them. There was a smattering of gay dudes, also dudes with manscaped facial hair who could have played for either team. The Concert Crone's point is, if you are a single, straight man at a Lykke Li show and you do not hook up, you are simply not paying attention. You should signal your straightness with a plaid shirt and a look of confusion; that seemed to be the most common hetero marking.

Age Humiliation Factor: Medium
The Concert Crone purposely did not remove her ID from her wallet on the way in, and the bouncer purposely did not ask for it as he attached the venue wristband. Then the elderly deaf grandma routine started.
Bouncer: "I need to look in your purse. Do you have gum?"
Crone: "Do I have a gun?" That seems like a strange question.
Bouncer: "Gum." This woman is an idiot.
Crone: "A gun?" What the heck is he saying? I can see his lips moving.
Bouncer: "GUM." Motions to giant stack of confiscated gum. Evidently, those Regency Ballroom folks do not want you Macgyvering your way into the men's room with some gum.
Crone, relieved. "No! No gum, no gun."
Behind the Crone, Maria is having a plastic baggie of contraband chocolate chip cookies confiscated and added to the gum pile. Who needs a gun? We rollin' with Tollhouse, bitches.

Cool Factor: Medium
The opening act was Grimes, a Canadian singer whose real name is Claire Boucher and who was evidently quite the buzz-generator at this year's SXSW. She is a lovely girl with a Kewpie doll voice and a ready giggle. Saying you've seen Grimes perform live could provide some real indie street cred.

The problem is that when Grimes performs, she constantly diddles the knobs on various synthesizers, all while singing in a made-up language that, according to one reviewers, includes references to Dune.  In fact, she kind of acts like a busy toddler at a water play station. Unfortunately, it was not long into Grimes' performance that memories of Gilda Radner and the Judy Miller Show on SNL bubbled into the Crone's brain. All hope for indie street cred was lost as Maria and the Crone guffawed into their drinks, just waiting for Grimes to put a skirt on her head and sing, "I am the most beautiful bride in the woooorld! And this is my showowowow!"

Worth Hiring the Sitter? Definitely, but good luck because she's already got tickets. 
You know why chicks dig Lykke Li, and why their boyfriends agree to see her play? Because she is girl power personified and made irresistible. Her YouTube clips, like "Dance, Dance, Dance" below, are full of soulful melodies and ballads. But she is not afraid to turn the volume up to 11 and shake her hair during a live show; this song had the whole joint jumping. It took two drum kits, not to mention the single drum stick that Lykke wielded at whatever percussion instrument was within reach, to keep up with her distinctive voice that absolutely overflowed the hall. Maria says, "What surprised me most was how much better she is in concert than her recordings would indicate. Lykke is a born live performer and her sound is a ton richer live than recorded."

The Crone has saved the best for last. Being of Northern European stock, Lykke's show ran like clockwork. Doors at 7. Grimes at 8. Lykke at 9. Bed by 11:12, still plenty of time for the Crone to bank some REM sleep before making school lunches on Tuesday morning. Skål!

Lykke Li is touring the coasts and Europe for the rest of the summer - catch her if you can at Did you see her play? Do you understand Grimes' made up language? Do you think the Regency Ballroom should lighten up on the chocolate chip cookie restriction? Let the Concert Crone know your thoughts in the comments section. She could talk music with you all day long.


  1. "In fact, she kind of acts like a busy toddler at a water play station."
    Ha! First laugh of the day. Thanks.

  2. Not only did I get away with smuggling in an entire open pack of Extra, the bouncer let me take an apple in too. Winning!


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