Much like her stellar debut Youth Novels, the best of Lykke Li live is stripped from complexity and broken down to its barest form. There’s no intricate light show. No major set décor. No fancy costumes—Li comes dressed in a pitch-black cloak, her blond locks the only color on her. Even her backing band possessed the bare minimum of instruments at times, switching from electric to acoustic guitars and from a full drum set to rhythmic banging on a single floor tom with Li hammering away at a tambourine. And a kazoo (WTF moment #1).
Near empty was the stage, but never the sound, with a tiny Li surprisingly belting out a full vocal range that did not match her petite figure. But then again, her entire atmosphere was quite the surprise. The fact that Li & Co. could send the entire audience into a frenzy based off slow-churning indie vocal pop tracks may or may not have been expected, but was pleasing nonetheless.
Li is borderline manic onstage, owning it in the sense that Karen O. (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Hayley Williams (Paramore) own their stages. Li, for all her smallness, demands audience respect and in turn receives utter adoration.
The beauty of Youth Novels‘ simplicity is its ability to transfer so smoothly live. The barely-there drumming of “Dance, Dance, Dance” is immaculately recreated on a lone drumhead before Li’s vocal breakdown brings the track to a dramatic end. Fan fave “Little Bit” is as heart-churning, and a little bit more heartfelt, in front of a sing-along crowd than on your iPod. (Editor’s Note: For any Lykke Li fans who also like dance/electro tunes, do yourself a favor and check out this track. You won’t be able to get it out of your head.)
And Li’s onstage persona seals the deal as she balances onstage cuteness/sexiness with off-the-wall zaniness. Case in point: an impromptu cover of Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” (WTF moment #2) leading into “Breaking It Up” with Li’s tiny voice blaring out of a megaphone (WTF moment #3).
Closing with a lush “Tonight,” which was then of course hummed by every fan walking to their cars after the show, Li proved her duality as a recording artist and a performer are, in the end, one and the same.