Electro-pop soul singer Lykki Li began her U.S. tour at the Sixth and I Historical Synagogue Saturday night. Her lascivious taunts and synth vibrations roused the crowd from pew-sitting to aisle-dancing.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums (below) opened the night with a minimal confluence of jazzy vocals and tribal drum beats, but the crowd was eager to see the headliner.
Equipped with a black cape and prima donna ‘tude, Li (first name pronounced LICK-e) performed all the bangers from her debut LP, Youth Novels. She opened with “Dance, Dance, Dance” and chimed her mini bell with steady drumstick hits. As the energy picked up, so did the bodies, creating a makeshift dance floor in a space more conducive to Shabbat service than body grinding.
Li swayed on stage with a kind of staccato, robotic grace. She had a rock star presence that almost seemed too big to contain within the Synagogue’s dome. When not breathily crooning into the mic, she was railing on a crash symbol or hyping the crowd with a back and forth hip-hop sensibility (she even managed to sample Lil Wayne midway through one song).
The sold-out crowd was enrapt with Li’s charming Swedish eccentricity and adorable voice that sounds a decade younger than her 22 years. Her songs weren’t straight studio cuts, either: “Complaint Department” had heavier kicks and deeper grooves than the album version and played out like a Euro house jam. “Window Blues” was more acoustically sophisticated, with Spanish guitar that sounded more distinguished and brooding live. Li led the audience in the song’s French chorus, accentuating each word with a resonant drum thump.
The night was still young when the show ended, but Lykke Li gave the crowd some spirited dance pre-game and maybe even a few melodies that would be sung all the way to the next party.
Photos by Brandon Wu