Lykke Li - First Unitarian Church - January 30th, 2009

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While I haven't been to many concerts, I never thought I'd be standing in a church or sitting in a pew listening to a girl singing about she keeps her legs apart. Nor did I think I'd be watching an artist sing or dance by candlelight. I also never thought I'd hear a Swedish singer rapping to Lil' Wayne's “A Milli.” Lykke Li performed last Friday at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and did the unexpected. When I first found Lykke, I thought she was a little weird and too “adult contemporary” for me to enjoy. After buying (yes, actually purchasing) Youth Novels at Best Buy on a whim, I fell in love. The album is full of amazing sounds and lyrics, leaving me wondering why she didn't receive album of the year.


First thing's first, the concert did, in fact, take place in a church. First Unitarian supports all walks of life and has featured concerts by a bunch of different artists, including death metal bands and rappers. Walking in, you're greeted by rows of pews and stained glass windows and wondering to yourself if you showed up at the right place. The opening band, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, was unfortunately one of the hardest things I've ever had to sit through. The two member male/female percussion-based band played a 6 or 7 song set of songs filled with odd sounds and vocal tones, although the guy on drums gave a great performance. The crowd remained seated for their entire set and clapped when appropriate, but I don't think anyone could say they enjoyed it. Not a single word that was “sung” could be understood.

Once the moaning woman and drum-pounding man left the stage, every light in the place was turned off and the entire church was lit by 8 candles on stage. The opening sounds of “Melodies&Desires” began and Lykke her her all-male band took the stage and stood still until the music stopped. If I've learned one thing about Lykke Li from her performance, it's that she loves to dance. She opened with “Dance, Dance, Dance” and did much louder, hard-hitting versions of “I'm Good, I'm Gone,” “Little Bit,” and “Complaint Department.”

After yelling “What the fuck?” at the crowd a couple of times and telling people to dance their asses off, she started playing what was probably the best performance of the night: “Let It Fall.” If you're familiar with this song from her album, it sounds like a nice, happy, mid-tempo track with some decent lyrics. To get a better idea of what I experienced, check out this performance she did back in September, or this one from Amsterdam of her going crazy to “Dance, Dance Dance”. I knew she used to be a dancer, but didn't think I'd see the crowd going wild at a Lykke Li concert. If she's reading this, she should definitely release a DVD or a CD containing live versions of her songs, because it's a totally different listening experience.

“Everybody But Me,” a favorite of mine, was the third song in and was performed equally as well as the danceable tracks. Even if you aren't a fan of hers, it's still amazing to watch her perform, as she used other unheard of instruments to re-enact sounds from her album that couldn't be played live. I'm assuming all of you have seen her use of the megaphone in songs like “Breaking It Up,” which comes in a close second behind “Let It Fall.” Suddenly, in the middle of the set, the "A Milli" sample started playing, and Lykke made her attempt at Lil' Wayne's verses. In my opinion, this show's her diversity as an artist, and an ability to try anything, even a cover of Rick Ross's "Hustlin", which you've all seen. Unfortunately I couldn't catch "A Milli" on video.

Although I said “Let It Fall” and “Breaking it Up” were her best performances of the night, “Tonight” obviously knocks them out of the water. After falling in love with the video for her latest single, this was my most anticipated performance of the night. After she sung the first chorus, the church went completely silent as she sang. Her delivery was perfect and the setting with the candles was perfect for the mood of the song. I'm surprised this song hasn't been featured on something like “Grey's Anatomy” or something to that effect because it is definitely one of the most amazing songs in rotation right now.

Her set was probably only an hour long, due to the fact that she doesn't have much material, but it was definitely worth the experience of seeing her live. Her encore was a cover of A Tribe Called Quest's “Can I Kick It,” which she's done before. All in all, this was an amazing concert and experience and I suggest you pick up some tickets (they're cheap!) if she's playing in your town.

Here's a video of videos I took of her performing “Little Bit,” “Everybody But Me,” and “Tonight.” The quality isn't so good, but the sound is great and worth checking out...