Swedish duo Icona Pop commanded a dance-pop pep rally this afternoon. Their lightly punk-inspired party anthems and scream-along choruses poured over four-on-the-floor beats (i.e., the "um, um, um, um" sound one might make when mocking club music) and kept the crowd moving and engaged more than anything I’ve seen this weekend.
Each and every song seemed a hit with the audience — a mostly young group tipping flasks into Coke cans and sporting Flash Tattoos who eagerly obliged each and every request to "put your hands up" or "1, 2, 3, jump, jump, jump."
While they worked the crowd, on stage the pair felt a bit stiff, though they have improved since their Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 appearance. They didn’t dance so much as they walked around and occasionally tipped up their black skirts. (To be fair though, it’s often weird at festivals seeing one or two people spread out on a massive stage, not taking full advantage of the real estate.)
The stage presence part of the package is one many of their Scandinavian pop peers have in spades. (See: the without-equal electro songstress Robyn, up-and-comer MØ, and energetic indie mainstays Little Dragon and Lykke Li). In fact, I found myself more captivated by the guy who was absolutely killing it with the American Sign Language interpretation than the main stage. (But man, that guy gets it, so that may be more a testament to how awesome he was than a problem with Icona Pop.)
Things did just feel a little too by-the-numbers at times. That classic crowd call and response of "[Question?] I can’t hear you! [Question repeated louder]" seemed to come up every other song, and some occasional swearing felt forced. (Please note: I loves me some profanity, but it’s no substitute for raw energy.)
Minor gripes aside, there’s loads to be said for being a part of a sweaty, swaying mass of people fully dedicated to having fun. It’s something that doesn’t really exist outside of the festival setting — and it rarely even happens there.
Interstingly enough, Icona Pop is one of two mega-popular groups playing today who owe at least part of their rise to prominence to Charli XCX’s vocal hooks. (The other act, Iggy Azalea, was performing at the same time on the other side of the park.)