Show Review: Icona Pop, k. flay, Sirah at The Fillmore, 12/18/13

by Dakin Hardwick on December 24, 2013

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Icona Pop were supposed to play The Fillmore back in August. I was out of town, and bummed that I couldn’t make it. I don’t generally get excited about illness, but I was happy that one of the members falling ill led to a rebooking to a date I can make.  The rescheduling didn’t hurt attendance, either, as it was still the hottest ticket in town. They are riding high on a debut record where nearly every track is all over the radio, from the spring time smash “I Love It,” to the current “All Night,” they are one of the few break out acts of 2013. So selling out The Fillmore was a most epic way to end a stellar year.

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The first act on the bill was the rapper Sirah. She’s best known as the MC on several of Skrillex’s bigger tracks, but this set was something totally different. She played to nothing more than a drummer and a backing track, however there were some sound issues that made the backing track nearly inaudible. So we were treated to a simple, primal routine that was just vocals and drums. Sirah is an amazing vocalist that is capable of some rather impressive MC skills and can also sing with Conor Oberst levels of intensity. She spent the bulk of the set in the crowd, singing directly to many members of the audience, and coming off as the hypothetical offspring of Siouxsie Sioux and Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux. Definitely going to see this performer again.

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k. flay is a photographer’s nightmare. During the entirety of her 45 minute set, she may have stood completely still for a grand total of 15 seconds. This set may have been the calmest k. flay set I’ve ever seen, which isn’t saying much. Her spastic energy is on full display, but this show had a much wider energy dynamic than k. flay shows have been in the past. She played with a DJ and a drummer, with flay taking on percussion and sampler in addition to vocals, all without skipping a beat. It was, by far, the best set that I’ve seen her play. Which is saying a lot, since this Bay Area native is usually quite good.

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Well before Icona Pop took the stage, you could tell that this wasn’t going to be your typical pop show. I’ve never been to a pop show where the men out numbered the women 3 to 1. There were no teens or tweens to be seen, however that may have been do to the band having a 10:45 start time on a school night. The stage itself was covered with various different lights and a giant pyramid in the middle. There was no room for a band or dancers. The set, in fact, looked like a smaller version of the beast that Daft Punk toured with in 2007. I was worried that this may have come off as an EDM show more than anything else at this point. However, once Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo made their way onto the stage, they proved how big a show two people can put on.

They opened “We Got The World.” The pyramid proved to be a home where all of the music was made, containing laptops and samplers and such that Jawo & Hjelt took turns triggering tracks from behind the pyramid. However, this didn’t distract from their actual performance. Hjelt and Jawo are both impressive performers, especially for a group that has only been performing live for such a short period of time. They covered their entire record over the course of their hour long set, mostly playing it straight, but stretching out songs for maximum impact. That is, they didn’t do unnecessarily long versions of tracks, they just played them out enough to keep the crowd’s energy alive. Costume changes were minimal: they took off their jackets at one point, and briefly donned light up hats for a track.

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The audience never lulled, either. It was a glorious, danceable party night. Nobody stood and stared stoically. It was pure fun, through and through. Icona Pop are definitely the real deal, too. Nothing was lip synced, and Jawo even pulled out an electric guitar for a few numbers. It was nearly a rock show, and it was one of the best rock shows I’ve seen this year.

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