Robyn fans around the globe are likely frustrated that she is not the biggest pop star on the planet. It's a well-warranted sentiment. The Swedish songstress' marathon "Body Talk" releases yielded a deep well of meticulously crafted pop in 2010. Sure, it is a grave misfortune that top 40 remains dominated by the simple-minded drivel of Ke$ha's Friday night romps, but that's why it's better to digest Robyn's Sunday night performance at First Avenue's main room as a blessing. After all, it isn't every weekend you get to see an arena-worthy pop performance in the intimate confines of a midwest rock club.
Upon following her Devo-suited band onto the effect-crammed stage, Robyn tore through a loaded set and three encores. The evening opener, "Time Machine," set the remote-world experience that the best bombastic club tracks offer. In a similar fashion of her mothership stage entrance, Robyn's work is carried largely by intimacy. It barely took the symbol crash of the first song's Delorean-seeking chorus to establish that otherworldly experience. By that point, the crowd was brimming with adoration for the evening's ruling queen.
Never sacrificing energy or vocals, Robyn's stage presence danced between manic highs and lows. The bittersweet lover-spurned track "Dancing on My Own" showed Robyn staying close to the mic, save her signature arm swings. On the feverous kiss-off tracks like "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do," she was all fist pumps, hip thrusts and crowd high-fives. She is also not one to forget the band-based roots of disco and club pop, a genre that is now largely constructed on laptops and mixing boards. Her two keyboardists got their well-deserved moog solos during the bridge of "Indestructible."
After a relentlessly physical set, Robyn returned to the stage for a slightly underwhelming four songs. The stripped down production of "Dancehall Queen" puts such a high emphasis on the dubstep bass that the band struggled climbing out from beneath the rumbling speakers. The band-hindering beat also allowed the backing vocals to evade into a space that was largely dominated by the singer's live voice.
It's hard too gripe too heavily since two more encores followed. The second encore's raucous rendition of "Konichiwa Bitches" took the track to frenetic, acid house highs. She closed the evening with a toned down performance of “Show Me Love,” which gave everyone that one last communal experience before venturing outside the venue walls and back into the real world. Through none of these songs, including the eight played in the encore, did Robyn ever seem to be going through the motions. A lot of her performance chops seem to come from passion instead of obligation. And boy, it goes along way in a little space like First Avenue. With a slew of dates on Katy Perry's summer tour, Robyn may finally find that audience she has deserved since 1997. However, last night's intimate little experience in First Avenue has a lot of hoping she'll never gain another fan on this side of the pond.
Time Machine/ Fembot/ Dancing on My Own/ Dance to the Beat/ Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do/ Love Kills/ The Girl and the Robot/ Indestructible/ Call your Girlfriend/ Stars Forever
First Encore: Get Myself Together/ Dancehall Queen/Hang With Me/ With Every Heartbeat
Second Encore: U Should Know Better/ Konichiwa Bitches
Third Encore: Dancing Queen (short excerpt)/ Show Me Love
Check out more of Leslie Plesser's phtotos from last night's show here.