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MØ’s hip-hop swagger shows ACL early birds why she’s the next big thing

Eric Pulsifer

Some people will never be convinced to get to ACL at the start of the day, and on this final day of weekend one they’re probably better off for it — because any early birds here who caught MØ’s superb noon set are likely to just be let down by the rest of the day.

The Danish electro-pop songstress has heavy hip-hop swagger and a passionate performing energy that reeled passers by from the Lady Bird Lake entrance. While the numbers in attendance were small at her set’s start, the crowd stretched to near the sound booth by the time she closed with a rock rendition of “Don’t Wanna Dance.” It’s simple to see why her siren song draws in a people: she already sounds like a pop star deserving top billing.

MØ, real name Karen Marie Ørsted, oozes with cool confidence. How many acts can pull off a (non-ironic) Spice Girls cover of “Say You’ll Be There” and actually turn it into something that gets people moving?

Speaking of the Spice Girls — cross that off the list of things I never thought I’d say — with her slender frame, track pants pulled high on her waist and a ponytail/bob up top, MØ’s look recalls Sporty Spice. But obvious similarities to previous pop stars ended there. MØ has a dance style all her own, like a kid who has memorized Fly Girls routines going nuts to her favorite song in her bedroom. She was all over the place on stage, falling to her knees, leaping down on the ground-level speakers and getting in the crowd. If you looked away for a second, she was somewhere else.

Even when I caught her during her first Austin stop at SXSW 2013, the fresh-sounding 20-something was clearly one to watch. But with a live band upgrade adding machine-gun snare hits and electric guitar accents over 808 handclaps and belly-shaking bass and a couple years of touring under her belt (err… Adidas trackpants waistband), she now seems ready to conquer the world.