Review: MØ at The Vogue Theatre
The fun part about contemporary pop music is just how varied of a spectrum the musical landscape is. Gone are the days when we only had Madonna and Michael to choose from, or even the squeaky clean Britney versus Christina heyday of the early 2000s. Now, we have separate tiers of pop royalty, beginning with A-listers like Taylors and Beyoncé, and trickling all the way into indie pop icon fare who manage to cross over to the mainstream via EDM collaborations and commercial cameos. There’s a little someone for everyone in top 40 nowadays, which definitely makes things a lot more interesting.
Such is the case for Danish electropop superstar MØ. After years of flying under the radar, releasing Internet-based singles and consistently being touted as “the next big thing”, her mainstream appeal didn’t come until about two years ago. Thanks to the high profile Major Lazer feature she found herself and DJ Snake on via monster smash “Lean On”, the music world at large knew the best kept secret that fans had been excited about for years. She’s a bit grittier than Adele, less branded than Katy, and somehow even edgier than Rihanna.
Now sitting on a fence between worlds of top 40 and indie, MØ is somehow representing the best of both worlds, retaining a fun loving nature and big voice while being backed by premium producers and collaborating with everyone from Benny Blanco and Ed Sheeran to Justin Bieber and BloodPop.
But it isn’t even her studio work that should be the most celebrated. As a live artist, MØ has proved herself to be an electropop game changer onstage. Her live energy tonight at The Vogue Theatre was infectious, backed by a full band that elevated her impressive vocal capabilities with a full bodied sound that had no trouble filling the cavernous venue even to its nooks and crannies.
Much of MØ’s career has hinged on her high profile collaborations, and all of those were presented tonight. On a slowed down version of “Cold Water”, her duet with Major Lazer and Bieber, MØ stripped the EDM rager down to a shortened ballad, perched up close to the front of the stage and led a campfire-ready singalong of her hook from the hit. But collabs aside, her solo work is even better, actually. Big singles like “Drum” and “Pilgrim” show that MØ doesn’t really need anyone else to climb the charts or invoke ass shaking on the dance floor.
Tonight’s performance just sounded really, really damn good. MØ’s vocal range is immense, and she encapsulates her songs even better in a live setting than on album. “Waste of Time” got the catchy beats started early, and they didn’t really stop for the next hour and a half or so. But it wasn’t all big, wild and noisy. “Dance With Nobody” showed she’s able to slow it down, and built it back up again into a big finish.
It wasn’t until I heard these songs live that I realized exactly why they work so well. The merging of sonic flavours, speeds, and genres are all within the meticulous craftsmanship of these tunes. Even the ballads have big sound behind them. The slower “Riot Gal” really showcased her vocal chops, and the boppy, sexy “Slow Love” is a real push and pull with tempos and volume.
MØ is a huge presence onstage. She oozes confidence, never stands still, and continually works the stage. On slower numbers, she might briefly pause to strike a pose, but then she’s off again to dart around a bit more. During a couple moments, like the electro-brass tinged “Pilgrim”, she made her way through the crowd, all the way up to The Vogue’s towering balcony, getting up close and personal with her adoring audience.
On the Caribbean-via-synthesizer, Diplo-penned single “Kamikaze”, MØ enters with trap and house, marinated in a slight AM radio glaze. The slow hit had the crowd in full dance mode, clamoring to high five the singer as she darted across the front of the stage and back in a cool, confident manner, dramatically stopping here and there along the way.
Closing the show with single “Final Song” was somehow cheekily clever and also a bit on the nose, but we’ll forgive MØ for that one, of course. Naturally, she saved the big guns for last, pulling out (of course) “Lean On” and “Don’t Leave”, her Snakehips collab, for an encore that somehow managed to feel both like a rave and a rock show wrapped up in one.