Scenes From Saturday Night's Icona Pop Show at the House of Blues.
During most of the pair of abysmal opening sets offered up by California rappers Sirah and K. Flay, it seemed like the Saturday night House of Blues crowd might never file in.
But by the time the headliners went on — after some well-received '90s and early aughts music that blared over the venue's main room P.A. between sets — the general admission lower-level of the spot seemed to reach about 90 percent capacity, and there were a decent number of showgoers in the box and balcony seats above, too.
Apparently, the crowd just had better things to do than watch the ridiculous posturing and lip-synching of the support acts. No, that wasn't what they came for on this night.
They came to witness the spectacle — and the fun — that is Icona Pop. The Swedish duo didn't disappoint either, ripping through a 60-minute set chock-full of dancing, singalongs and some pretty spectacular visuals.
Coming on to the opening strains “We Got the World” and backed by a swirling array of red lights, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo made it clear from the jump that they were here to party, significantly adjusting the song's bridge from the studio version to make it more dance-friendly. And, as they would all night, the crowd played along and got down in a good-natured enougn manner — everyone from the hipster set to the the significant amount of little kids in the audience and the parents who were there with those kids.
From there, Icona Pop proceeded to work its way through the highlights of their Iconic EP and singles output, frequently retreating to a trapezoidal video screen-backed DJ setup at the rear of the stage that looked like something out of an '80s movie set depicting the not-so-distant future.
That spot would spawn the weirdest moment of the night — a significantly tightened and shortened rendition of “Manners,” which followed Hjelt and Jawo's costume change into a pair of black light-illuminated getups that obviously owed a debt to A Clockwork Orange. In holding with the rest of the evening, the bit was quite visually interesting and delightfully odd.
Throughout the show, there wasn't a single moment that the crowd members didn't appear to greatly enjoy, whether they were dancing with their neighbors or merely bopping and singing along.
That's not to say the performance was flawless, though. As is a par for the course at most House of Blues shows, the mix for this show could've been a lot louder. It wasn't uncommon to hear the conversations of people who weren't even standing particularly nearby. This isn't, of course, the band's fault, but it did underline what is probably the biggest fault in Icona Pop's live act: their occasional lack of confidence. On the songs that aren't just completely overwhelming, Hjelt and Aiwo seem a bit of unsure of themselves. And, with the speakers seemingly set at half volume, most of their cuts lacked that edge. The biggest non-“I Love It” standout of the show was “On a Roll,” a track from the bandâ€™s upcoming September full-length This Is… Icona Pop, and the fact that the two havenâ€™t done it live all that often really helped the song, as they needed to focus more on the material itself, which left them a bit less self-conscious and a lot more natural.
That non-“I Love It” caveat is necessary because the Charli XCX-penned anthem remains an absolute force of nature. It's given Icona Pop a lot: commercial royalties, a prominent role in a Girls episode, you name it. Without “I Love It,” it's doubtful this tour would even be happening. So there was never any doubt about the encore. Icona Pop has a bona fide blow-the-roof-off closer, and it's to the group's enormous benefit.
The performers did the song justice too, leading the crowd — from the stage and then from the barricade-made moat in front of the stage — to a sweaty, throbbing, shouting catharsis. The audience had clearly gotten what it wanted and seemed more than satisfied on its way out.
Listen: Icona Pop isn't perfect. The duo lacks the polished choreography of the best mainstream pop acts, and the band doesn't have the songwriting chops of fellow indie-pop stars like Charli XCX and Marina & The Diamonds. Icona Pop is, however, a helluva lot of fun, though.
Anyone who saw them this weekend would happily attest to that.
All photos by Mikel Galicia.