Category: Fever Ray

Coachella 2010: Fever Ray's dark arts not as powerful when performed in a plain old music festival tent

Fever Ray, closing out the Mojave tent, played a perfectly strong show, but the tent setting was not the best for their theatrical goth pop. Swedish electro-witch Karin Dreijer Andersson shouldn't be performing in some tarp contraption that can be erected and dismantled in a day -- she should be performing at the altar of an obsidian marble church, preferably while levitating.

Dressed like techno druids in all black and ghastly face paint with a stage set up of blinking vintage lamps, the band's presentation was beautiful and unusual. Lasers beamed overhead, catching the smoke in the air, transforming it into a swirling neon ocean. The music hewed pretty close to the low subliminal brood of her debut album, but with a few twists: "When I Grow Up" got more synth drone, and "Seven" -- a song that veers from the mundane (dishwasher tablets) to the existential (dreams of heaven) -- became even more playful, with an extra synth loop and tom-tom drums.

Even with some low-end shudders to rival headliner Jay-Z's, too much of the drama and tension of Fever Ray was sucked out of the back of the tent, despite the best efforts of a couple of girls who were happy to entertain the masses by dancing in white go-go boots and pinwheeling arms loaded with neon jelly bracelets.

The problem was simply California -- who wants to see palm trees near Andersson when she's the aural equivalent of the Northern Lights?

--Margaret Wappler

Coachella 2010: Who had the scarier visage, Fever Ray or John Lydon?

Johnny

For those few not in an Empire State of Mind at Friday's small-hour sets, two equally spooky punims awaited you at Public Image Ltd. and Fever Ray at far corners of the field.

Which was more terrifying? Well, one was a death-gripped grimace with acrobatic head adornments that suggested a pagan god-beast. The other was Fever Ray in makeup.

We jest though, Mr. Lydon. Public Image’s reunion-of-sorts set was actually a surprisingly eager traipse through the foundations of post-punk. For kids who have never known a nightclub without the Rapture or Bloc Party on repeat, it’s strange to imagine a time when disco beats and punk venom seemed an antithetical and radical pair. But cuts like “This Is Not a Love Song” and “Tie Me to the Length of That” had all the snarl of Lydon’s pioneering punk act the Sex Pistols, but atop a still-ambitious and spacious take on disco, dub and avant-garde effects. Lydon’s aging ungracefully in all the right ways – like the picture of Dorian Gray, his music in PiL feels ever more vital, while he makes Keith Richards look like Taylor Lautner onstage.

Fever Ray is one of very few bands that didn’t benefit from Coachella’s pastoral setting. The Nordic-noir Swedish electronic act (helmed by the Knife’s Karin Andersson) needs a pitch-black, claustrophobic space for her stunning stage sets to work their spatial magic. Indio’s palm trees kind of broke the spell, even if her tunes were as spectral and spine-chilling as ever, and a perfectly immersive nightcap to a long day.

But in the end, there was a clear winner in the battle of Coachella’s most haunting complexion. To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous comment about drunkenness, when the bands hit the showers afterward, Fever Ray scrubs hers off.

-August Brown

Photo: Johnny Rotten of the band Public Image Ltd. (PiL) performs at Coachella on Friday. Credit: Karl Walter/Getty Images

Live Review: Fever Ray at the Fonda

The first thing one saw at Fever Ray's L.A. debut at the Fonda last night was a gray sheet of smoke. It formed on the blacked-out stage, where the Swedish electro-goth ensemble waited in silhouette, then slowly crept over the crowd like something out of "The Fog," until the whole audience was obscured by  acrid mist. If you've ever harbored fears of pagan witches coming for you in the dead of night, this would not have helped you.  

But from the moment the band started playing, and a fan of refracted lasers descended to just over the audience's heads and a bevy of antique lamps flicked on and off in time to the drums, the show turned from unnervingly creepy to completely overwhelming. Fever Ray's music is a delirious and deadpan cousin to Karin Dreijer Andersson's day job in the spooky house duo the Knife, but her live show is less about performing from her record than making an entire new world around it, with a great assist from set designer Andreas Nilsson. And it's one that happens to feel like nothing less than the Satan-impregnation scene in "Rosemary's Baby."

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