all photos: Jane Briggs
all words: Svetlana
It is important to note that I walked INTO this show a fan of both Kelis and Robyn, as excited for this show as a teenage girl en route to her first disco.
Further, it is important to note, that I walked OUT of this show a HUGE fan of Robyn and a slightly DISAPPOINTED fan of Kelis. And before anyone goes for my review jugular with fighting screams of “Kelis is AMAZING” let me start at the beginning:
At 8pm the line to get into the sold out show is down the street. I run into a (very nice, very classy) friend of mine and he is wearing glitter all over his face (it is still light outside)
“Hey you, is that glitter all over your face?”
“The real question, Svetlana, is: WHY IS THERE NO GLITTER ALL OVER YOUR FACE?”
Walking in, I see his point. Sometime during the last decade, the combination of Robyn and Kelis became reason enough for a veritable gay dress-up holiday. The club is packed, and glitter on the face is really one of the more subdued way of pledging your undying allegiance to the dance deities everyone is here to see. There’re head dresses, war paint, glow sticks on all body parts and more. It is Monday night, and just like every other Monday, DC IS HERE TO PARTY.
Kelis is maybe 15 minutes or so late and when she trots out looking like a tall, cool drink of disco it is easy to see why these men LOVE her (as a fellow tall woman who wears glitter dresses a fair amount I can atest to the fine line we walk between fun and drag in those situations). Looking like a life-size Jem doll, clutching her glowing mike, she makes the audience cross their heart and hope to die and promise that they are all here “to dance, and do nothing but dance” and I am excited: THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD.
And then…IT ISN’T.
You see-she did not sing. In fact-she did not even pretend to sing. She vogued and shimmied and pointed her fingers at things and people and things and people went nuts when she pointed her fingers at them, but overall, it kind of felt like a glorified drag queen lip-sync show (and not a very pro one at that).
She “played” her hits (I was pretty excited to hear at least a portion of “Good Stuff” thrown in) but the decision to also intersperse said hits with dance favorites like “Sweet dreams” resulted in the show feeling like a Kelis dance party in her bedroom, with her singing into a hairbrush and you being allowed to look in. Which, I know, sounds harsh but Kelis-I love you and I had really high hopes for you.
Having said that-Did I mention the woman is really super duper insanely HOT? It bears repeating and emphasizing with these photos:
Then, a break, emergency vodka runs, anticipation you can cut with a knife (or a feather from your head dress, if you were wearing a head dress) and I look over and say “I hope Robyn does a better job”.
And then Robyn steps out onto the stage, surrounded by her band in crisp white jumpsuits and within exactly 2.5 seconds, all my fears are gone. Robyn is here, and she is here to party. WITH YOU.
I have always been a huge fan of the female pop dance stars in their most basic, original form (in fact, if this bill somehow included Roisin Murphy and Annie in it, I could have died a happy woman the next day) and as much as I love the catchy choruses, the crisp production and the mannered images/videos these ladies make, I sometimes worry about what the live show may be like.
There are two ways to go about it: a. make a giant production out of it and try to recreate your record at its most polished or b. just go out and have fun with it.
Robyn went with option B. and it could have backfired for all of those expecting her android chic on Monday night, but, instead, it was AWESOME.
First of all-the woman is a phenomenal dancer. Not a choreographed, technical dancer, but the kind of dancer that you wish YOU WERE DANCING WITH AT A PARTY. The Molly Ringwald leg kicks, the shoulder shimmy shake shakes, the works.
Second of all-the energy does not let up. It is non-stop, all the time, the kind of energy that makes you feel bad that you’re not as energized.
Third of all, for an artists whose work is so produced on record, she really delivers live. The voice is solid over the beats, the hits keep coming (“Dancing on My Own” is a great newish favorite), and while Kelis made you swear that you will do nothing but dance as if she was bringing you into a church of disco, Robyn doesn’t need to make that pretense- it is not a church, it is just a disco (and to keep the energy up, yes, sometimes you do have to eat a banana on stage, we’re all human after all).
Someone make this woman a proper star ASAP (why she isn’t one, and someone like, say, KESHA is, will forever be a mystery to me) so we can all say we saw her at 930 club back when (even though, she’s obviously been on the charts for something like 15 years now and somehow still comes off fresh)
To quote one of my interns on the way out: “How cute was Robyn? I want one!”