August 3, 2011
Lykke Li has thus far straddled the line between star and anti-star. She's drop-dead-gorgeous but strange and aloof; her vocals are soft but she has great stage presence; her songs are catchy but mellow and often stripped-down. All of that was on display at the Greek Theatre, but she definitively leaned toward her growing star status, dancing amongst Cirque du Soleil-style long black sheets and appearing with a darkly dressed band that looked straight outta Slytherin.
She bounced back and forth easily between songs from her chamber pop debut, Youth Novels --songs like "I'm Good, I'm Gone" and "Little Bit" now play like '00s classics--and the more tribal songs of her second album, Wounded Rhymes. As quirky and subdued as she can sound on record, the songs are thankfully given more propulsion and sonic power when played live, courtesy of a five-piece backing band. Li pulled out drumsticks to hammer along to songs like "Dance, Dance, Dance," maintaining the song's charming low-key coyness the first half and then waving her black cape like a bat and bashing at cymbals during its riotous second half. Wounded Rhymes' drum-happy "Youth Knows No Pain" and "Get Some" played back-to-back, solidified that Li's transition from lite-pop ingénue to goth-gospel songstress was a wise one.
Opener Best Coast continued their victory lap after last year's winning sunshine-and-desperation debut Crazy For You. They debuted a new song with a walking bassline and country-shuffle chorus that could signify a further step toward vintage country pop and away from noisy introspection, but as of now, the band still plays as a three piece sans full-time bass duties (guitarist Bobb Bruno plays both bass and guitar lines on his guitar), lovably scrappy even as frontwoman Bethany Cosentino's raspy, soulful voice filled the Greek like a punk Dusty Springfield.
In fact, if anything, they sounded defiantly punk in the face of success a lot of the time. Cosentino gave single "Girlfriend" more of a snarl at the choruses, appreciation of which may be a matter of taste--I loved it--but, like Li, Cosentino and company still acknowledged their now-wider following with audience-pleasing sentiments, from the gorgeous '50s tremoloed riffs underpinning "Our Deal" to Cosentino dancing and clapping like Stevie Nicks during "Each & Everyday."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Critic's Bias: I've met the members of Best Coast and they're very nice people.
Random Notebook Dump:
Li covered the Knife, Kleerup and Burt Bacharach. She wore black boots, black short dress, black cape-like frock, hair long and parted down the middle.
The Crowd: Some young hipsters, some older folks and a lot of girls in high, high heels. I got the impression that when Lykke Li slipped part of a cover of The Knife's "Silent Shout" into the end of "Rich Kid Blues," it went over a lot of people's heads.
I'm Good, I'm Gone
I Follow Rivers
Silent My Song
Dance Dance Dance
I Know Places
Love Out Of Lust
Rich Kid Blues/Silent Shout
Until We Bleed
Youth Knows No Pain