@ZackTeibloom Robyn was an infectious party from the minute she danced her way out onto the immaculate new Moody ACL Studio stage to the perfectly appropriate “Time Machine.” It kind of felt like the Swedish Gay Time Machine** of concerts. Tell people you’re seeing Robyn, and they’ll ask if it’s that “Show Me Love” Robyn from the 90s. Yeah, same girl. And better than ever. After missing a few Midwest dates due to illness, Robyn was a healthy burst of energy, even if she had to eat half a banana and chug some water to get through her set with two unforgettable encores.
Coming out in the jacket pictured, Robyn was flanked by two male synth/keyboardists and two male drummers, all in white jumpsuits. It was an assault from the word go. She sang over a backing track that mostly served to echo her call and response. Her voice sounded spectacular in a room with dynamite acoustics, and the girl can flat out dance. As my girl Meg said, “As much as I loved dancing to Robyn, I’d watch her dance and think no one else could do it as well.” Robyn oozed stage presence. It was hard to take your eyes off her. I didn’t even notice when one of her dancers unzipped his jumpsuit down to his waist for the second half of the show.
The show was a steady stream of Body Talk hits, with “Fembot” following “Time Machine,” and led to her taking off her jacket and yelping ‘How you doing, Austeeen?” and straddling the drum kit before launching into “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do.” I found it a bit odd that she blew her single load of “Dancing on my Own” so early in the show, but she had more than enough to keep us locked in for the next hour after it. She danced around with determination, dominating the stage and doing that back to the audience, “I’m-gonna-make-it-look-like-someone-is-groping-me-self-hug” thing to smiles and hoots from the crowd.
From there, she revealed the glow in the dark aspect of her drum kit and ROBYN sign and later, her glowing bra. The drum sets also had two big Robyn’s painted on them, but all I could think of was “put a bird on it.” She addressed the crowd, saying “You could be doing anything. If you weren’t here, it wouldn’t mean anything. Thank you for coming out.” Then she threw a half eaten banana into the crowd.***
After a quick 50 minutes, Robyn left the stage and came back for an encore of “Get Myself Together,” Dancehall Queen” and a lovely “Hang With Me.” “Give it up for my band. Give it up for my crew, working hard. Give it up for you, Austin. I came all the way from Sweden to be with you tonight. Wanna hear another song?!” Of course we did. It wasn’t even 11. She had us all make a heart with our hands and came back with her Jacket back on for “U Should Know Better,” “Konichiwa Bitches” and the finale of Robyn finales. It felt way too appropriate for her to end with a slowed down, sparse cover of “Dancing Queen” into “Show me Love” as she blew kisses, saying “We love you, Austin.” Oh, Robyn. We love you too. You just sparkle.
Performance: 19/20 I can’t think of one thing she could do better. Unbelievable dancer, incredibly engaging and what a voice. A beautiful performance that left everyone buzzing as they left the incredible Moody theater. I’ll dock one point for paint by numbers banter, but she’s a top-rate pop star performer. It was a steal for $15 at this venue.
Crowd Engagement: 9/10 Really fun crowd. Danced a ton, totally locked in. Not too pushy or overly crowded, even from up close. Wasn’t quite the free for all it could have been, but it was nice to be comfortable and have some breathing room. Pretty ideal.
Set List: 7/10 I think the choice to have “Dancing on my Own” that early in the set was a bit odd, as it was clearly the biggest sing-a-long and hit and it’s hard to stay at that peak for an hour. She handled it well and I thought the spacing was mostly strong, but I don’t know why there was the need for two encores with just an 80 minute show.
Ambiance: 10/10 I think almost everyone who’s seen a show in Moody has a new favorite music venue in town. Wow. I know it’s easy to sound douche-y when describing this place, but well done. I hope to see dozens of shows here over the years. Spectacular sound, wonderful set-up, easy to get in, not one complaint.
Total: 45/50 or 9.0
*This Robin Sparkles, from “How I Met Your Mother,” headline reference wrote itself. But the more I thought about it, their careers are quite similar. Both foreign born, named Robin/Robyn. Both had big 90’s hits and seemed prime to fade quickly. Only Robyn had a resurgence, but it doesn’t seem like Robin Sparkles Scherbatsky wants to revisit it. Until they need material next season.
**I mean this in the nicest way possible. It was probably the most homosexual concert crowd I’ve experienced (outside of the 20 minutes I spent at Lady Gaga at Lolla.) Even gay guys thought so: “Just when I thought this couldn’t get any gayer, the pre-show music plays “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” into “I Feel Love.” -@shivvy. It was a totally fun experience. Great energy, tons of dancing. Wonderful vibe. No judgment. I just feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the make-up of the crowd.
***I’m really curious what you’d do with a half eaten Robyn banana. Do you hold onto it? you know how fast bananas rot. Are you gonna be that guy who licks it or takes a bite after her? The crowd really wanted that banana and I want to know why.
Photos by Mary Rehak of Shutter-noise