Last Thursday, Katie and I joined thousands of women and gay dudes to see the co-headling tour of Swedish pop superstar Robyn and Norwegian producers Royksopp, who you probably only know from that Geico commercial (for shame).
We went to the bathrooms, on the way charming all the old ladies at the Wolf Trap that thought we were hilarious. When we got back to our seats to see the word ZHALA on the stage in bright letters. We didn’t know there was an opener because we don’t pay attention to things. A quick Google search showed us that Zhala is the only artist signed to Robyn’s Konichiwa records. It all made sense now.
Zhala’s set up was small and sparkly, but we really couldn’t see much because of the backlighting. She brought a stand close to her and opened up a laptop, which prompted Katie to say, “she’s playing a computer.” That she was, Katie. Once she pushed play, her set started, which was full of uptempo pop songs. There were so many times she didn’t sing, though (if she was playing live with pedals she could have recorded lines and repeated them a la Grimes), and she is a TERRIBLE lip syncher. Practice in front of a mirror, Zhala!
Katie then said: “she could win Eurovision” and she truly could. She has just enough attitude to make her weird and appealing to the voters but her songs are simply dance tracks, which have won several years in a row. It’s something for her to aspire to.
There were a few things about Zhala that puzzled us; namely, her strange stage presence (a lot of fist pumping) and her strange outfit (as far as we could tell, she was wearing a Puffy Shirt, yoga pants under lace pants under a tulle skirt, all of varying lengths). However, I liked her songs enough to add them to my walk playlist, but she would have been better with a band or by herself in a club.
Royksopp’s lineup included Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland, two drummers, a guitar player, a bassist, two complicated electronics set ups and a saxophone. They played all the big hits (except for the jams with Robyn), including my favorite, the Karin Dreijer Andersson-led “This Must Be It,” which Zhala sang since Karin is busy breaking up with her brother.
After a short set, Robyn got on stage and performed all the songs you love, all while exhibiting boundless energy and being the most charismatic performer I have ever seen in my life [I think it might be the best show I EVER saw -K]. I have been listening to Robyn and Royskopp on my morning walks for the past two months straight, and it felt both weird and exhilarating to sing “Call Your Girlfriend” with thousands of others, since my relationship with it recently was so personal and small [I also loved everyone singing “Dancing On My Own” -K].
I realized one of the things I love most about her is her fashion, which is very androgynous, European and unlike any other pop star that is popular in America. She plays with volume and layering, even when it’s hot as balls outside.
As I suspected, this concert couldn’t be over without Royksopp & Robyn performing some songs from their new ep Do It Again and “The Girl and The Robot,” which had one of Royksopp in a horrifying costume, sharing verses with “the girl.”
Dancing my ass off with my best friend was one of the most fun ways to spend an evening ever, and I promise we didn’t make too many assy comments, except at the people that were reading between bands and the couple who took one hundred selfies.