Tove Lo/Phoebe Ryan
February 19th at House of Blues
By: Jasmine Chan
The combination of Phoebe Ryan and Tove Lo on the Lady Wood Tour made for a sexually charged, female empowered show last Sunday night. The second Phoebe’s distinct green hair hit the House of Blues stage, she had the crowd singing along. Her mashup of “Ignition” by R. Kelly and “Do You” by Miguel had an electro-pop twist which brought her own unique vibe to the classics. Although she began as a songwriter for artists such as Oh Honey and Bea Miller, she has released hit after hit beginning with her debut EP Mine in 2015. She prefaced the last song of her set by mentioning a call she got from her friend that their song had reached over a quarter of a billion plays on Spotify. Her friend was Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers and their song? The dance hit, “All We Know”. Phoebe set the energy of the night high as a perfect prelude for the Swedish singer and songwriter, Tove Lo.
Anticipation built as Tove Lo’s glowing, yonic symbol was projected on a white sheet over the silhouette of her figure. The partition dropped and all eyes were on Tove Lo as she started her set with “True Disaster.” She is a true performer who utilizes the whole stage, giving attention to every part of the venue and occasionally joining her band by thumping her single bass drum. She also slowed things down with a stripped version of “Imaginary Friends,” featuring just her vocals and her on a keyboard.
Tove Lo captivates her audience with her mesmerizing dance moves and gives it her all to the point where she collapsed on the ground and had to take a rest between songs. She secured the audience’s attention caressing her body and teasing the hem of her shirt until unapologetically flashing us during “Talking Body.” At one point I captured a 30-second video of her writhing and humping the air on the ground in a mesh and sequined leotard, which probably made fathers taking their pre-teen daughters to the show a little uncomfortable, but the rest of us were pretty about it.
The raw eroticism of Tove Lo’s performances match well with the brutally honest content of her music about sex, relationships, drugs, and the female experience. It’s appropriate that this tour and her latest album are named “Lady Wood” after her song which carries the lyrics in the bridge, “Perfect imperfections with mistakes and unlearned lessons/Yeah, you give me wood, give me lady wood/Dirty on the inside, damaged goods with nothing but pride/Yeah, you give me wood, give me lady wood”. These lines encompass the dark, self-aware theme and message of this album and tour. She sings about being flawed and messy, but is confident in reclaiming her sexuality as a female in a straightforward approach to sex that is conventionally reserved for the male counterpart. Her feminist anthem, “Cool Girl”, is about the power plays and games of insecurity in the early stages of relationships which she refuses to take part in. The chorus, “I’m a cool girl, I’m a, I’m a cool girl/Ice cold, I roll my eyes at you, boy,” is simple but effective in expressing this as she strut across the stage with flirtatious nonchalance.
She left the stage after “Cool Girl”, but we all knew the show wasn’t over. She returned in a jacket that was essentially a disco ball for a finale of the song that started it all for her, “Habits (Stay High).” Throwing glitter into the crowd and belting it out on the edge of the stage where her fans could surround and touch her, the final song captured the essence of the entire experience of the show – intimate, provocative, and transcendent. It left me with the sudden urge to kiss a stranger, confront every boy who has ever wronged me, or run topless in the streets – do with that what you will.