May 3, 2023

Fever Ray played Terminal 5

In support of this year's incredible album Radical Romantics, Fever Ray brought their thrilling live show to New York's Terminal 5 for a night of flamboyant self-expression.

Over the course of three full-length studio albums, Karin Dreijer has conjured up a persona as their act Fever Ray and with each release, they've revealed more of themself through subtle flashes of personal experiences and newfound self-identity. Fittingly, the subsequent tours for each album have also showcased new perspectives and introduced new aspects which has made their live shows growing, personal journeys. When they toured behind their self-titled debut, the stage was decorated with gothic lamps and a band dressed in masks building the mystic around the art. The tour behind Plunge saw an elaborate spectacle of a stage performance, but on their latest outing, Karin delivers their most direct and freeing show to date. Opening with a stark, nearly spoken-word version of "What They Call Us," we immediately were introduced to Karin with an unmasked face, their eyes staring directly back at the crowd with a sinister smile to boot. On each side of them was a backing singer and multi-instrumentalists rounded out the backing band, each with an elaborate head piece which resembled a crown and a glowing mushroom. After a slight tease, the ensemble hit their mark and brought the pulsating rhythms to the forefront which would light the spark of the dance party that would ensue for the rest of the night. Under flashing lights, the band electrified the crowd with their sharp bursts of rubbery electronics and steely rhythms that clanged with force while Karin's vocals soared over the crowd. Ranging in dynamics from ear-splitting screeches to bellowing choruses, the span that was covered never ceased to amaze and highlighted the extreme dexterity Karin's voice holds. The night was an odyssey of queer fantasia that constantly defied genders and placed androgyny at the focal point of the night. Donning a large cream-colored blazer and tie, there were moments that seemed to mimic David Byrne's Stop Making Sense wardrobe while at other times, the three singers assembled in a Supremes or Destiny's Child-like pose, Karin taking the lead while the others balanced out the soothing vocal textures. Hit after hit amped up the crowd and by the time the chirping synths of "To the Moon and Back" rang out, the crowd was ready to let it all out. The laser-like melodies pinged around the venue while the audience raged on as rainbow strobes illuminated the room and as the song climaxed with the lyric "I want to run my fingers up your pussy," it was as it the room peaked simultaneously. "Shiver" saw the singers swarm together and move like Sirens out at sea, luring in the crowd with their hypnotic movements as the dazzling song gripped the room making for one of the definitive pop moments of my year. "Even It Out" found the backing singers grab key-tars for what resembled the video of Robert Palmer's '80s classic "Addicted to Love" while Karin sang about getting revenge of their son's high school bully. The choreographed moments of the night really helped to make the music feel celebratory and enchanting and each new set of moves seemed to get a bigger response than the one before it. For the back-half of the night, BPMs increased and the rave-ready mentality picked-up. Dropping techno remixes of their early tracks picked up the pace and assimilated the songs into the vibe Karin's more recent output of clubby dance numbers and less so the stark, dissonant electronic sounds of their debut. Interacting with the crowd in ways I have never seen before from the singer, this was without question the most confident and direct performance Karin has given in quite some time and possibly ever. Their voice was in pristine form, sounding bolder than the past while also processed beyond recognition, always keeping the crowd engaged and on their toes for what would come next, continuing to defy rules and expectations. "Carbon Dioxide" was another twitching banger that had the crowd raving along with pure adrenaline. "If I Had a Heart" brought pounding drones to the mix and began the comedown process for the night as spiraling lights illuminated the band before they re-emerged with hooded capes to deliver the final track of the night, the sprawling and haunting "Coconut." Fusing hard electronics with crystalline synth-pop, it was a night of avant-garde pop wonder that created an inclusive space of pure love and fulfilling self-expression. After over a decade, Karin seems more focused and ready to conquer than ever before and to see the growth over time is truly remarkable. 

Set list:

01 "What They Call Us"
02 "New Utensils"
03 "When I Grow Up"
04 "Mustn't Hurry"
05 "Triangle Walks"
06 "To the Moon and Back"
07 "Shiver"
08 "Kandy"
09 "Even It Out"
10 "An Itch"
11 "I'm Not Done" (Still Not Done remix)
12 "Carbon Dioxide"
13 "Now's the Only Time I Know" (remix)
14 "Tapping Fingers"
15 "If I Had a Heart"
16 "Coconut"

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