by Holli Stephens
One of the first realizations I came to on Wednesday night at Union Transfer was that I was completely underdressed for Lykke Li. Her simple and modern black style was depicted in what the audience chose to wear in support of her. I tried to hide behind my sun-bleached Converse the best I could as high-heeled woman in cocktail dresses and guys in button downs paraded past me. There didn’t seem to be a person under the age of 18 on the floor while the 21+ balcony sections were filled to the brim. Politeness as well as maturity was duly noted.
The big haired beauty Mapei brought along a bassist and drum kit who got the groove going with extremely bass heavy songs about love and encouragement through rhythmical chorus and cadences. I’ve heard of Mapei earlier in the year from her EP, The Cocoa Butter Diaries and her single, “Don’t Wait” that also acted as the climax of her 45-minute set. She released a new album on September 23rd called Hey Hey and was eager to perform new material. Outfitted in a black and white tribal dress, she bounced around the stage and expressed how excited she was to be in Philly.
There was also a weird strictness to the show that made it a little uncomfortable. After I was told to only photograph from behind the sound booth, I was quickly escorted outside and told by another security person that I couldn’t photograph there either. After striking a deal with two more guards, I was allowed to ascend to the 21+ section and cramped together with the other six photographers.
The stage became extremely smoky as Lykke Li geared up for her 10pm set. The smoke became illuminated with different colored lights that mimicked a sunset as draped black fabrics hung from up high and fell at the floor. Lykke Li’s band took their places in various spots scattered on the stage and the singer was greeted by applause and shouts of praise as she took the microphone.
Dressed in a floaty black top and leather jacket the lights hit Lykke Li in such a way that you could only see her silhouette as she sang “Just a Dream.” After singing “No Rest For the Wicked” she asked the audience, “Is there anybody called Jerome?” before singing a song dedicated to him. Despite the strict environment Lykke Li was very personable and humorous as she took a break from the stage and came back saying “I just needed to have a quick drink if you know what I mean.”
“Dance, Dance, Dance” was one of her more upbeat songs and threw the audience into a frenzy of chorus singing while simultaneous body thrashing. She ended the song by saying, “Yea, it’s hard out there for a pimp.”
I can really appreciate when an artist takes the time to make their concert more interesting and covers other notable musicians as an ode to their work. Lykke Li chose Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs” in a beautiful recreation of the original work.
Other crowd favorites were “Gunshot” and “I Follow Rivers” before Lykke Li talked about heartbreak and told the audience to “take a moment to feel it all together” before starting “Never Going to Love Again”. She encouraged everyone to raise their respected iPhone or lighter in the air and 10 seconds later, Union Transfer was completely lit.
Lykke Li left the stage just as mysteriously as she came which did not go well with her audience. I’m almost positive that the guy next to me was crying and chants of “One more song!” began to break out. As Lykke Li’s band came back out, shouts of joy burst through the room and the singer ended the night with “Heart of Steel”.