Robyn - February 13, 2011, First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN


Fev 18 2011, 3h49

Some days you wake up rested, hopeful, and glad that a few weeks ago on a freezing afternoon you purchased tickets to a dance party whose date has finally come around, at the beginning of an imminent thaw. Casual friends convene, drinks go down easy and before long you're ready to dance to the beat.

Robyn's sold-out show at First Avenue was that dance party, and it made bodies move in all the right ways. The chick knows how to throw a party, and after two openers everyone in the venue was more than ready to welcome her on stage. With little fanfare outside an ambient space introduction, she strolled onto a dark stage with her band in tow and took her place at center stage. The intro to Time Machine was just under the level of loud until the chorus hit, then everyone in the place was along for the ride.

It took a few songs for Robyn to hit her stride. She had canceled a show in Chicago not long before due to sickness, and at first she held back a little on stage. But after quickly ripping through Fembot and Cobrastyle, she delivered an unexpectedly early Dancing on My Own. This song allowed her to meet the crowd at a fierce right angle, and after that moment the show had its own shape. The next selection was a trio of songs that all shared the same backing beat, which is no criticism. Some pop stars struggle with the stop-and-start of their stand-alone songs, but Robyn's band showed that there need be no breath between bass-heavy anthems. So We Dance to the Beat smoothed into Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do, which transitioned into Love Kills.

The band consisted of two keyboardists and two percussionists, the tables of the former lit by large blue Xs while the bass drums sported glowing Os, as if Robyn was sending out a constant XOOX of love to the crowd while she belted her own love songs. Her energy seemed to increase as she bounced around stage and showed off her customary arm pumps and swirls. When my friends found me in the crowd mid-set and edged in front of two tall men who grumbled about them shoving in, Dane turned and proclaimed, "Hey, we're all here to see the same bitch." They had no retort, and we continued to dance in place and raise our hands as that bitch ended her set with three selections from the incredible Body Talk Pt. 3: Indestructible,Call Your Girlfriend, and Stars 4-Ever. The show seemed over way too soon, and of course the packed house was willing to shout until Robyn conceded an encore.

Or make that encores, plural. Her first time back out, the small Swede delivered Get Myself Together, Dancehall Queen, and With Every Heartbeat. She exited and her band of white-suited space boys followed her off, then followed her right back on for another dose. Here Robyn finally changed her pace with some amazing alternate takes. She slowed down U Should Know Better to deliver her crooning half to the song whose track version features Snoop Dogg, and she let this song lead into my personal favorite, Konichiwa Bitches.

After this performance I couldn't have imagined there would be more, but expectations be damned: you should know better than to fuck with Robyn. She let the crowd quickly cheer her back and she commanded their attention by singing a good chunk of ABBA's Dancing Queen, a song that has influenced her themes in obvious ways. She let this sparse rendition blend into Show Me Love, which caused inevitable cheers from the crowd as they heard one of her first major hits from over a decade ago. Finally, having satisfied her audience and herself, she made her final exit while everyone's heads involuntarily continued to bob.

Some days, your mood intersects with the music in the room and a full concert is over before you can even remember that it had begun. That brevity is okay, because I've continued the encores by letting all variations of speakers or headphones I own blast Robyn for the past five days, letting the electro-pop-space-bass-dance-confessional earworms dig themselves deeper and deeper into my insides.


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