Sunday, after a looong weekend, I saw Lykke Li and Grimes play at the 9:30 Club. I had never heard of Grimes before this show was announced, but I have been a pretty large Lykke Li fan for years, since before her debut album Youth Novels came out. Grimes turned out to be a one woman band, who played an odd, eclectic mix of pop/noise/danse music. I’d have to listen to her stuff recorded to really pass judgement, but live it was interesting, if really distorted.
Lykke Li, who I’ve seen before, has upgraded her sound and more than upgraded her stage show. The set was almost like an arena rock performance, with blasting strobes, synchronized lighting, tons of fog, weird cloth strips that hung from the ceiling and swirled around the stage… The new material is also bigger and more bombastic (even as the song thematic material is darker and somber at times), so it’s quite a spectacle. For me, it left me a little unsure if I preferred this new Lykke Li to the one from Youth Novels and before. She got her start with small, intimate songs with a stripped down sound. Part of the reason I loved those early singles and her first album (and her earlier stage show) was how it felt like she was really putting herself out there with little artifice. While this new record and show are way, way more pro and accomplished, I think it loses a little of that feel. Still, it was a super impressive show and she is certainly flexing as an artist.