A Night In The Clouds: Tove Lo at the Crystal Ballroom

Vortex Music Magazine

In support of her debut album, Swedish songstress Tove Lo brought a sexually amplified experience alongside budding Swede Erik Hassle to a sold-out Crystal Ballroom on October 5.

Photo by Fabian WesterPhoto by Fabian WesterIt seems as if Tove Lo keeps getting bigger and bigger. The last time the Swedish pop star played a full show in Portland (aside from her two-song acoustic session at Skype Live Studio) was back in September of last year, when she headlined the Wonder Ballroom. At that point, Queen of the Clouds had yet to drop, but “Habits (Stay High)” was dominating the charts. Still, nobody really knew Tove Lo well, and it was apparent in the fact that the venue wasn’t even sold out.

Now, Queen of the Clouds has spent a year with listeners, and Lo’s presence in pop music has grown exponentially. With songs like “Talking Body” and “Moments” making their rounds on radio stations across the country, Tove Lo has now built her fan base to the point of selling out Portland’s largest general admission venue. It’s a proud moment for those who have been there since the beginning.

As the Crystal began to fill to capacity, the night kicked off with another budding Swedish act, Erik Hassle. Endearing with his curly hair and awkward dance moves, Hassle proved to be a pop artist who could easily take over the scene in the US. With ear-pleasing songs like “No Words” (which garnered a positive review from Taylor Swift), the crowd seemed to take a liking to him—perhaps too much of a liking in fact, with shouts of “Daddy!” and “Just like that!” coming from some of the more enthusiastic attendees. We’ll see how far Hassle goes in the future, but I imagine he (and his fans) won’t be disappointed.

As the moment of Lo’s arrival on stage inched closer and closer, the crowd began to shift, becoming excited for the night’s headliner. Since she’s known for sexualizing her stage presence, there was a lot of talk about what she might do. The lights came down, and we all watched.

Tove Lo at the Crystal: Photo by Brendan SwoggerTove Lo at the Crystal: Photo by Brendan SwoggerThe first thing I noticed when Lo took the stage wasn’t her, but the lights behind her. Rather, the absence of lights. There were six big rigs acting as the backdrop for the stage that were meant to light up and spell out “T O V E L O.” I’d seen pictures from previous stops on the tour, but something was different here. They weren’t lighting up. In fact, they never once came on during the entire set. It reminded me of when CHVRCHES played the Crystal last year and Dok’s lighting rig never came on. Perhaps the Crystal has some curse on lights; perhaps it’s all just coincidence. Nonetheless, it didn’t really take away from the performance at all.

Lo strode the stage with a new confidence on this return to Portland. Taking control of a bigger venue, the Swedish goddess treated it as an arena, putting her all into every second on stage. Like a real pop star, halfway through the set brought a costume change, and she switched from an all-black jumpsuit into something a little more… scandalous.

The crowd’s reaction to every song was beyond positive, especially so with songs like “Moments” and “Timebomb.” But by far the biggest scream was heard at one particular point during Lo’s performance of “Talking Body” (watch the music video below).

As soon as the song began, more than half of the crowd knew what was coming. Just as she did back at the Wonder, Lo ran the stage with more than a dash of lust in her step. The song is a very sexual one, and she made that clear with her moves. As the last chorus came closer, she began to play with the straps on her leotard seductively. I don’t really need to tell you what happened next...

By the time the show came to an end, one thing was clear: In only a year's time, Tove Lo has found herself. With a new confidence and a bigger following, Lo is taking on the world. I can’t wait to see what a second album and 2016 tour will do for her name.

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