What distinguishes a Justin Bieber concert from a hipster gig in Singapore? Probably the age of the screaming hordes – the response is the same. Concert-going for the hipster in Singapore is all about the live experience and less about the music.
In the case of Swedish singer-songwriter, the music is a strong evocation of the 60s – from Spectoresque girl-pop to the West Coast psychedelic rock sound of the Jefferson Airplane, Lykke Li’s music is very much rooted in the past. And when Lykke Li raised the ghosts of yesteryear, that’s when the music transcended the somewhat hipster tendencies of her weaker moments.
And this was never more evident than on Sadness Is a Blessing where the spectre of the Ronettes’ Be My Baby was glimpsed. Similarly on the dark psychedelia of Youth Knows No Pain where Lykke Li channeled Grace Slick with Ray Manzarek’s organ thrown into the mix (for Rich Kids Blues). Elsewhere, the Bo Diddley rhythmic exercise of Get Some delivered a primal appeal that crossed over the decades. However, on the songs where Lykke Li simply aped either the likes of Coldplay (Possibility) or Fleet Foxes (Unrequited Love) – her encore, ironically enough – her distinctive musical personality disappeared.
Of course, these nuances were lost on the hipster crowd screaming “Marry me” during the quieter moments (totally destroying the mood) or the female stage invader whom a bemused Lykke Li simply ignored until the lame attempt at disruption petered out. Lame and dumb. Kudos to the Esplanade security for restraint, it must be noted.
So in the final analysis, there is a sense that Lykke Li certainly possesses the potential to be a serious artistic singer-songwriter, one wonders whether the commercial appeal of the hipster audience will derail any such ambitions and dilute Lykke Li’s artistic integrity. Her performance at the Esplanade Concert Hall perfectly summed up her dilemma.
Thanks to Greenhorn Productions. Picture by Jonathan Kwa.