Pics/Report: Lykke Li & Grimes in Philly


At the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia on May 16,
the pair of distaff rockers showed the Shuffle Generation how it’s done.


Text and Photos By
David Iskra

When I told a friend they should pick up the new Lykke Li
album, they asked “What kind of music is it?” That question is often asked in the same way one asks
“What’s in this?” before they bite into your latest culinary experiment.
Some people know what they like and don’t want to stray too far from their
comfort, or in this case listening zone.


That attitude might soon be a thing of the past after
speaking to Grimes who opened for Lykke Li May 16 in Philadelphia. When I went to do my research I
found very little online and didn’t know who or what to expect. As it turns
out, Grimes is Vancouver’s
Claire Boucher, a very young and down to earth 23 year old wearing combat
boots. At first I thought she might be the little sister to someone in the
band.  It turned out that she was the band.


I had only heard the album twice earlier in the afternoon
and if you had asked me I would’ve guessed a more experienced and worldly group
of musicians created the dense and sonically expansive Halafax which was
released late last year. Earlier in the day I caught an interview with Pink
Floyd’s Roger Waters on WXPN.  He was complaining about the plethora of
crap music created on people’s computers in their homes. Clearly he hadn’t
heard Halafax, which Grimes created
on Garage Band over the course of 7 months without any outside help and no
musical training.





This was an example of a new generation of artists who have
grown up without the silly musical prejudices.  The Punk DIY ethos is
nothing new but the open mindedness surely is. Grimes isn’t worried about
labels or definitions and wears this attitude on her sleeve. She isn’t afraid
to namecheck Depeche Mode and Mariah Carey in the same sentence and she seemed
well aware of the how lucky her generation is to have access to just about
every recorded sound via a few clicks on her Macbook. This open-mindedness
shines through on the album as well as on stage.


The “Shuffle Generation” has arrived and they
aren’t afraid to mix their hip-hop in their rock pop.  This progressive
thinking isn’t confined to just the artists; the crowd reflected it as well. A
mix of hipsters and High Fidelity type 30-40 year olds who probably heard Lykke Li during an NPR pledge drive
flooded the TLA to see both artists. When people who probably don’t have much
in common are coming together to see the same act, it is safe to say some
boundaries are being broken down.


In response to my friend’s question I simply said,
“It’s good music.”





How would you classify the sound of a singer from Sweden who
sounds like Phil Spector produced Bjork for the indie crowd? Lykke Li’s second
album Wounded Rhymes isn’t exactly
rock though I’m sure the guitars are treated and buried in there somewhere and
while it is full of beats, she is far from straight up hip hop. And Bjork
comparisons aside, she doesn’t delve as deep into electronica as one might


As she took the stage, smoke machines were firing on all
cylinders and some well placed fans kept the heavily draped set billowing to
the music. These simple but effective theatrical flourishes made for a powerful
performance. Show opener “Jerome” got the crowd fired up and
her jiujitsu-like dance moves held their attention from start to finish
while the percussive throb of her five piece band kept everyone moving even
during the slow songs.





While this was clearly a showcase for Wounded Rhymes, her debut Youth
wasn’t ignored with “Dance, Dance, Dance” getting a strong crowd
reaction. It was a night of good music breaking down barriers.  






You know, maybe there is one upside about the disappearance
of record stores. Those shelves were just dividing the Rock from the Rap and
the Jazz from the Electronica anyway.  







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