Florence becomes Flo Bot at the State

Florence Welch has one of pop's most tremendous voices -- opulent, elastic and stratospheric. But as she demonstrated last Friday at Florence + the Machine's sold-out State Theatre concert, she has the most affected, mannered and frosty stage presence of any big-time female pop star.

Florence, 25, came across as part barefoot medieval babe and part robot and totally a one-woman pop-opera. It's not surprising that a previous incarnation of this band was known as Florence Robot/Isa Machine. Flo Bot seemed to be her principal persona at the State. She had faraway eyes, formal movements and a stunning stiffness. She was oblivious to her band. She seemed lost in her own world, not the friendly, free-wheeling Stevie Nicks on steroids that she had been last June in her Twin Cities debut at the Minnesota Zoo.

Many fans seemed willing to go with Welch on Friday into her world of baroque pop, dripping with drama as she wailed about sinking, drowning and delving into the darkness. The appeal is obvious: She's Celine Dion for the "Twilight" set -- complete with the chest-pounding, histrionic hand gestures and vocal gymnastics.

While Welch has a remarkable voice, she relied on two backup singers to sustain the high notes and technology to bolster her otherworldly echoes. When she dialed down the drama of her soft-loud-soft songs, the beauty of singing could be truly appreciated. "Leave My Body" and "Lover to Lover" simmered in their soulfulness. Flo Bot loosened up for the disco-y "You Got the Love," the punkish "Shake It Out" with its post-primal scream and the mega-hit "Dog Days Are Over," during which she taught the crowd how to pogo.

During the encore, Florence truly separated the art from the artifice. "Never Let Me Go" started with just piano and voice, displaying the richness and conviction she's capable of when she opts to be Florence the nightingale instead of Hurricane Florence. But she closed the 80-minute set with the approach she emphasized all night: Big kick drum, big scream, big roaring sound, with her voice howling like a wolf before the final chorus.

  • Jon Bream

Poliça looks great, sounds off on 'Fallon'

Somebody give the "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" camera crew a gold star. They did a great job on April 25 capturing the dynamic interplay between Poliça drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, which is at the center of the song that the Minneapolis quartet surprisingly chose to perform for its TV debut, "Leading to Death."

The show's audio technicians, on the other hand, might need a little talking to. Singer Channy Leaneagh's electronicified vocals sounded weirdly muddy and flimsy in what was presumably quite a hi-fi audio mix (not at all a problem at, say, the lo-fi Turf Club or 7th Street Entry).

Still, the band properly seized the moment, which came to them last-minute after Tom Waits had to cancel. Host Jimmy Fallon somewhat wise-acrely emphasized the "ç" in the band's name during his introduction. And the band somewhat boldly made "Leading to Death" its wise song selection -- not one of the tracks from its album touted as a single, but one that has been a clear highlight in its live sets this spring. Maybe the smartest move of them all, though, was by Ivascu, who did not miss a chance to mouth the words "Hi Mom!" into the cameras after the commercial break when Fallon came back to bid adieu.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Finally: Bon Iver erotica

No, Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) didn't just win a big award or collab with a superstar rapper. The Internet is in a tizzy for an altogether sexier reason: Bon Iver-inspired erotic fan fiction. A Tumblr page (boniverotica.tumblr.com) featuring erotic-lit passages about the Eau Claire, Wis., indie star went viral last week. Confused? Think of the "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling meme crossed with a PG version of "Fifty Shades of Grey." Here's a spicy taste:

  • "Last night we made love on a frozen pond. As we lay together afterward counting the stars, I began to shiver. Bon Iver pulled me close and said, 'If I could crawl inside your heart and build a fire, would you let me?'"
  • "Bon Iver explains that bees don't need all the honey they make. 'It's OK for us to take a little of it,' he says, his tongue tracing my sticky hipbone."
  • "Today Bon Iver wrapped me in his flannel, which smelled like charred pine and licorice, and took me outside to show me a perfect spiderweb."

There's no shortage of irony behind the lusty site, which milks guffaws out of Vernon's woodsy vibe and poetically baffling lyricism. (His lyric sheets make nonsense/geographic name-drops sound downright profound.) The site is the product of three Colorado twentysomethings who are all Bon Iver fans, and all "inexplicably" attracted to the bearish frontman, they told Time magazine.

  • Jay Boller

Actress Laura Osnes tagged by Tonys

Eagan High School grad Laura Osnes was awakened by a phone call from her agent on Tuesday morning, a call she promptly ignored. Then the phone of her husband, singer-songwriter Nate Johnson, started chiming. "I answered it to the voice of my agent saying, 'Laura Osnes, you've just been nominated for a Tony Award!'" she recalled. "I instantly started bawling. My heart was pounding and I couldn't help but hug Nate and just cry! It's that moment you dream of your whole life." Osnes, who now lives in New York, said that the Tony nomination, for her lead performance in "Bonnie and Clyde," is especially meaningful because it comes five months after the show closed on Broadway after an abbreviated run. "We were not forgotten," she said.

  • Rohan Preston

First Avenue getting new sound

In a string of renovations that included the removal of a staircase and a new sound board, the historic downtown music club First Avenue is now adding an entirely new front-of-house speaker system in its main room that will debut on May 11. "It's a real first-class sound system," First Avenue general manager Nathan Kranz said. "At this point, virtually everything is new."

The hardware - which hasn't been fully replaced in over a decade - includes film speakers that will be placed underneath the balconies, and a dispersal of the older equipment throughout the space to facilitate a fuller sound. While Kranz said that this is likely the last major improvement on the space this year, he wouldn't rule out additional upgrades. "You never know what we'll think of."

  • Jesse Mandell-McClinton

Brother Ali drops another track

We're still many months off from getting the new album by Brother Ali, but the dude has been dropping tunes in the interim like Hansel spilling bread crumbs. The latest song, "Not a Day Goes By," arrived without any warning Wednesday as a free download, with an accompanying video. It's a doozy, too. This might be the fastest-tongued track Ali has ever issue, almost Twista-like and especially evocative of his late pal Eyedea. Word from Rhymesayers is this is just another random, one-off track and won't be on the album. Ali also dropped seven new songs for free in February as an EP, "The Bite Marked Heart." -Chris Riemenschneider

 

Girls Got Rhythm, all-ages style

Organizers of the Girls Got Rhythm Fest, slated for May 11-12 at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, have a special treat lined up for Mother's Day. They've added a May 13 all-ages show to their inaugural festival, turning it into a three-day lineup. Japanese trio the 5.6.7.8.'s -- already slated to perform at the May 12 show opening for Ronnie Spector -- will hang around an extra day to headline the 5 p.m. Sunday gig, also at the Amsterdam Bar and featuring three other acts from the previous nights: Caroline & the Treats, Midnite Snaxxx and the Pinsch. Tickets for Sunday only will be $10 advance, or the show will be included with the price of the multi-day festival pass ($65). Kudos to the GGR Fest crew and their pals at Radio K for cutting in underage fans on what's already shaping up to be quite a positive and meaningful event.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Too Much Love is 5-ish

For many downtown Minneapolis clubgoers, it's hard to imagine a time when Too Much Love wasn't at First Avenue. The game-changing dance night celebrates its fifth anniversary Saturday (10 p.m., 18 & older, $3) with maestro Soviet Panda and guest Dustin Zahn. When the dance party debuted in 2007, it offered an alternative to the Top 40 playlists at other clubs. Five years later, it's still the go-to spot for dance rock and electro on a Saturday night.

  • Tom Horgen